Emotions Left Unsaid.
The Command staff sat around the long obsidian table in the forward observation lounge, each uncomfortable with what had unfolded. The telepath, Acryops, had been aboard only three hours, but already his presence was being felt. With tactlessness only an alien could wield, he had proceeded to tell the staff some truths about themselves they would have rather been left unsaid.
Lieutenant Commander Worf shifted in his chair and glowered at the telepath.
"Klingons do not tell others how they feel!"
"But Sir…"
"It is a dishonourable thing to do to a warrior! Stop it immediately!"
Acryops looked around the table and his slitted orange eyes settled on Lieutenant Geordie LaForge.
"What about you Lieutenant? Surely the Lieutenant in Astrophysics is aware of how you feel?"
Geordie's face reddened behind his visor, his tongue nervously licking his lower lip.
"No Sir she isn't."
"But why when you feel so strongly…?"
"Well I can't just…that is I…well…"
Captain Jean-Luc Picard cleared his throat and brought the attention back to himself.
"Acryops it isn't our way to tell each other each and every thought. It would be considered an invasion of privacy, as is someone else accessing them. I suggest…"
"But Captain, your feelings for Doctor Crusher are very…"
"Acryops! That is enough! It's time we brought this meeting to an end. We can…"
"But this is absurd! Doctor Crusher shares your feelings. Why do you not…"?
Jean-Luc Picard stood abruptly silencing the gregarious Acryops. His stare was glacial as he took in his assembled officers.
"The mission to the Arellian Assembly will proceed as planned. If there are no further issues to discuss, you are dismissed. Acryops I would appreciate it if you stayed behind."
Commander Will Riker, Doctor Beverly Crusher, Counsellor Deanna Troi, Lieutenant Commander Data, Worf and Geordie filed from the room, each suppressing a smirk. When they were alone, Jean-Luc addressed his guest.
"Acryops I must stress the fact that your…insights are causing great discomfort amongst my crew. It would be better if you…"
"Whom are you more concerned about? Your crew or yourself?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Captain you feel very deeply for Doctor Crusher. From what I understand of Humans, you're in love with her…and she feels for you with the same depth. I do not understand why two people who care so much for each other should keep such information from being explored."
Picard took a deep breath and ran his hands over his bald pate.
"There is a long, painful and convoluted history between us Acryops. It's just not possible."
"I still don't understand."
"Well you'll have to get by on my word. Now as to the mission…have you everything you need?"
The telepath looked down at the isolinear chips and the data PADD and nodded.
"Yes, your staff has been very thorough in the information they have gathered. When we meet with the Arellians you will have to remember to leave the talking to me. You represent the Federation, but they will not recognise you, as you're 'mind blind'. Without telepathy, they will consider you disabled, but always bear in mind they can hear your every thought. A disciplined mind is required Captain. A stray thought could ruin everything."
Jean-Luc nodded thoughtfully and gestured for his guest to follow him from the room.
"The Arellians need Federation help with the disposition of their mineral wealth. They chose to contact us, I can't but think that's a positive note."
"Indeed Captain, but you still think…"
Picard held up a hand and frowned at the telepath.
"Don't tell me what I'm thinking Acryops, I already know."
"As you wish Captain."

 

 

 

Later that afternoon, Will and Deanna were in her quarters going over crew evaluations. Deanna sighed and straightened up from her computer terminal.
"You know Will, I've been thinking about what Acryops said about the Captain and Beverly."
Will looked up at his best friend and grinned.
"You didn't need to be a telepath to read the Captain. He was furious."
"I know, but what Acryops said was true. I've been sensing the same strong emotions from them for some time now. If they both feel the same way, why don't they do something about it?"
Will shook his bearded head and blew out a breath.
"You've got me. As far as I'm concerned, they're made for each other. Maybe you could talk to Beverly about it."
Deanna toyed with the keys of the terminal then smiled thankfully at her friend.
"Yes, maybe I will."

 

 

 

 

Beverly had changed from her uniform into a soft pair of black leggings and an oversize blue jumper. She was tending to her orchids when the door annunciator sounded.
"Come in."
The doors sighed open and Deanna stepped in, her hands curiously behind her back.
"Hello Deanna. What have you got there?"
Instead of answering, the Counsellor stepped up to Beverly and watched as she pruned the plant. Beverly let the silence settle between them as she concentrated on her task.
"What about that one?"
Beverly followed Deanna's pointing chin and shook her head.
"No. That one will produce new flowers soon. I never disturb new growth."
"Never?"
"No."
"What about in people?"
"Pardon?"
Deanna turned to her friend and took her arm, guiding her to the sofa.
"What about new growth in people? Is it wise to stymie feelings when they're shared?"
Beverly frowned and shook her head, sending her lustrous red hair dancing.
"Really Deanna, I don't think it's any of your business."
"Isn't it? What happened in the observation lounge only confirmed what I've been sensing from you two for weeks."
Beverly's eyes dropped to her hands as they wrestled on her lap.
"A large part of my job is to try and keep people happy…on an even keel, so to speak. You and the Captain love each other…am I right?"
Beverly's hands formed fists, as the frown became a scowl.
"I don't want to talk about it!"
With a free hand, Deanna covered the clenched hands.
"I know, but you're going to. Here, this will make it easier."
From behind her back, Deanna produced a box, tied with a gay blue ribbon.
Disarmed, Beverly smiled at her friend.
"What's this?"
"Chocolates. Very, very special chocolates. From Borallis IV."
"Oh my God, you don't mean…"
"Yep."
"And you're willing to share them?"
"Yes…but only if you open up about your feelings."
"So it's a bribe then."
"Yes. Definitely."
Beverly sank into deep thought. She was not happy about sharing her thoughts with Deanna on this particular topic, but she also knew bottling them up was detrimental…and she wanted some of those chocolates. They were known throughout the quadrant as the most delicious of all chocolates, bringing an almost sensual experience to those who ate them. She came to her decision.
"All right, I'll do it. Shall I replicate some Champagne? They say you should eat them with chilled Champagne."
Deanna giggled.
"Why not?"
Moments later Beverly returned with two large flutes brimming with the sparkling wine. They each chose a chocolate, closed their eyes and popped them into their mouths. There was a momentary silence while they chewed, then moans of pleasure could be heard.
Beverly was first to speak.
"Oh God…it's so…they're just so…"
"Mmmm aren't they just? Have you ever tasted anything so decadent?"
"Uh uh. Oh the aftertaste…it lingers…"
"The Champagne…sip some Champagne."
The glasses were raised in unison as the women sipped. They closed their eyes and savoured the sensation.
Sighing with pleasure, they opened their eyes and grinned at each other.
"Deanna where did you get Borallian chocolates?"
"Will got them for me for our last anniversary. I've been saving them."
"Thank God. You know I've only ever tasted real Borallian chocolates once before."
"Really? When was that?"
"About two years ago. They were given to me by a friend."
"Must've been some friend. Not only are they very hard to find, they're extortionately expensive. Who was it? Anyone I know?"
Almost in a whisper, Beverly answered her friend.
"It was Jean-Luc actually."
"Beverly…"
The Doctor looked up, her face hardening.
"I can't tell him Deanna."
"Why."
"It would ruin everything. After KesPrytt…after I found out how he felt about me…he offered to take our relationship to a more intimate level. I turned him down."
"You didn't tell him how you felt?"
"No, I managed to put him off."
"If you love him, why did you turn him down?"
"Oh Deanna I don't want to lose his friendship. It's the most precious thing…if I lost that I don't know what I'd do."
"But becoming intimate with him doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose your friendship. In fact it's most likely it will strengthen it. Becoming lovers is the next logical step Beverly for two people as much in love as you two are."
"And what if he's brought into Sickbay, badly injured and I can't save him? What then?"
"Beverly I have no crystal ball. I can't see into the future and tell you everything will be rosy for you both. But I can tell you that if you continue to deny your feelings for each other, the repercussions will be devastating. Do you want to go through the rest of your life unfulfilled? Wouldn't it be better to love him here, in the now, than to lose him and never know that love?"
The two women sat in silence. One willing the other to yield to common sense. Eventually Beverly shook her head.
"No. I won't do it…I can't."
"But Beverly…"
"No Deanna! No more. The subject is closed!"
Deanna left her quarters soon after.

 

 

 

 

 

"I thought Worf was going to do him some physical harm."
Geordie's smile was genuine, but the observation was serious. Three friends, Geordie, Worf and Data were in Ten Forward discussing the earlier meeting.
"If he had continued, I might have!"
Data was watching his friends closely.
"Why does having your thoughts aired cause discomfort? I would have thought it would facilitate matters a great deal."
Geordie turned to the android officer and frowned.
"Well Data, we like to maintain a level of privacy. Part of being Human is learning how to deal with people based only on what they tell you. If we could read each other's thoughts…well it would be chaotic to say the least."
Data cocked his head to one side.
"But would it not avoid misunderstandings?"
"Maybe, but I think there would be a lot of resentment."
Data processed that information, then formed another query.
"What about the Captain and Doctor Crusher? If what Acryops said is true, are they not denying their feelings for each other? Why would they do that? Would it not be beneficial for them to act upon how they feel?"
Worf grunted and muttered under his breath…
"Human mating rituals…"
Geordie silenced him with a look and addressed his friend.
"Obviously it's not that simple Data."
"But Geordie…"
"We should not be discussing the Captain in this manner! It is…unbecoming."
"Worf's right Data. Why don't we…"
"Lieutenant Worf, why did you stop the telepath from reading you?"
Worf glared at his superior.
"As I said, it is a dishonourable thing to do. A Klingon does not let his thought be aired for all to hear!"
"Why?"
"Because it is private!…Sir. I considered it an invasion and had he not stopped, I would have threatened him with violence."
Data exhibited shock at this pronouncement.
"Even if the Captain allowed it?"
"Captain Picard would not allow such a thing."
Geordie clasped his hands on the table and sighed.
"Worf's right Data, the Captain would never condone such an invasion of privacy. Acryops may be receiving us constantly, but Captain Picard would've asked him to keep it to himself in the future."
Data thought about this and filed the information away for further study. He was soon on to his next question.
"What do you think about the upcoming mission Geordie? Why do you think the Captain was requested?"
"His reputation, no doubt."
"But he is not telepathic. He will be dealing with a species that can read his thoughts. Will that not put him at a disadvantage?"
Worf's smile was fearsome.
"The Captain will overcome such difficulties. He has a strong mind."
Geordie shook his head.
"It'll need to be Worf. Just think…it's been a long day, you're tired…all it would take is one stray thought and boom! It all blows up in your face. I certainly wouldn't like to be in his shoes."
"Why would being in his shoes help Geordie?"
"It's just a saying Data, it means better him than me."
Data filed that away then asked guilelessly,
"How will having another telepath there help?"
Worf grunted.
"I'm sure Captain Picard doesn't need and more telepathic help."
Geordie frowned at Worf and answered Data.
"Acryops is from the Federation Diplomatic Corps. His role will be to assist the Captain."
Worf shifted in his chair and grumbled,
"I do not like it! The Captain needs no help in matters of diplomacy. He is an accomplished diplomat!"
"I hear you Worf, but the Federation is running this show and the Captain follows orders just like the rest of us. If they say take a telepath, he takes one."
"It should be me accompanying him to the planet, not that telepath."
Data watched his friends and listened as Geordie brought the subject to a close.
"Yeah well I agree with you but orders are orders."
The three officers finished their drinks in silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc sat in his Ready Room mulling over what Acryops had revealed. He had known for some time that Beverly loved him. He had seen through her efforts to shield him on KesPrytt, but what he didn't know was how deep those feelings went. Now he knew. She loved him as he loved her…completely and utterly. He had felt this way for so long it had become a part of who he was, as familiar to him as the beating of his heart.
A proud and sensitive man, he had been devastated by her refusal to take their relationship forward, in fact it still hurt him and he was shy of being hurt in such a manner again.
For most of his life he had been content to devote himself to his chosen profession. He had always known what he wanted to do and once he achieved that he was satisfied, but the love he held for Beverly had settled in his heart and, as the years passed, he realised his life was indeed incomplete. Without her in his life, his existence would have no meaning and if that meant having her as a friend only, then so-be-it. It was better than the alternative.
Now he was puzzled. If she felt as he did, why couldn't they explore that? What was she afraid of? How could he broach the subject? Should he? And what if he was turned down again? Could he stand the hurt all over again?
He rose from his chair and sauntered to the replicator, requesting his usual Earl Grey tea. Returning to his desk, he picked up the crystal stylus and twirled it to catch the light.
"Oh God, what do I do now?"

 

 

 

 

 

At the Captain's request Acryops stayed in his cabin for the remaining two days it took to reach Arellius. For the entire time he was privy to the thoughts of over a thousand people but he concentrated on the Captain and Beverly. Their refusal to admit their feelings was a great puzzle to him, one he was determined to solve.

 

 

 

 

As the mighty Starship entered orbit around Arellius, Acryops was ordered to the Bridge. He arrived quickly, hearing the thoughts of everyone at once. Grimacing, he concentrated on the Captain and smiled at the cool precision he found.
"Captain, have you established contact?"
"Not yet Acryops, I was waiting for your arrival."
"Very well, I am ready."
"Ops open a channel to the surface."
The viewscreen flickered once then cleared to reveal a being of unremarkable appearance. Of medium height, with dark shoulder length hair, the only unusual feature being bright pink eyes set against dark skin. Jean-Luc stood with his usual elegant grace and addressed the being.
"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise. May I also introduce Acryops of the Dellars?"
The being on the screen looked carefully at the two men then gave a slight bow.
"I am Udrom, Chief Negotiator for the Grannic Consortium. Welcome. We have arranged quarters for you and you aide, we are sending coordinates now…"
Worf received the information.
"We have them Sir."
"Very well, Udrom…we will beam down at your convenience."
The link severed, Jean-Luc turned to his First Officer.
"Well Number One, the ship is yours until I return."
"Aye Sir, we'll take good care of her."
When Jean-Luc and Acryops entered the transporter room, he was disappointed to find Beverly hadn't come to say goodbye. The telepath watched the Captain closely as he fought down his displeasure and re-focussed on the mission. Satisfied that the Captain had got control of his thoughts, Acryops smiled at Jean-Luc and nodded his readiness.
"Energise."
It would be an interesting few days ahead.
Beverly sat in her office in Sickbay and looked again at the chronometer.
"He would be in the transporter room by now. Why am I sitting here?"
She picked up her chamomile tea but put it down without sipping the hot liquid. Drawing her legs up until her forehead rested on her knees, she clasped her hands around her shins and closed her eyes.
"Come home soon Jean-Luc…"

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc and Acryops rematerialised in a large building in the city centre. Light and airy, Jean-Luc's eyes were drawn to the artwork strategically placed around the room.
"It's a collection of several artists work Captain. You would like to study the pieces more closely."
Frowning at having his thoughts so easily read, Jean-Luc faced his host and straightened his spine.
"I'm sure that can wait Udrom."
He extended his right hand and, after a moment's hesitation, Udrom clasped it in a firm grip.
"Ah yes, the Human custom of shaking hands. I believe it is an ancient gesture meant to reassure. I can see you carry no weapons. I am reassured."
"Actually, as most Humans are right handed, it was to show that the weapon hand was empty. Any weapon, be it sword or spear was transferred to the left hand, with the shield."
"Indeed? How quaint. I take it your weapons are more sophisticated now?"
Jean-Luc nodded and smiled.
"I believe weapons are on your list of requirements?"
"Yes Captain. I'm sure we can come to an equitable arrangement."
"As am I. How many delegates are there?"
"Five. Apart from myself, there are four other consortiums represented. Together we hold the mineral wealth of Arellius. With the Federation's help, we hope to trade those resources for an alliance mutually beneficial to us both. Why don't we petition to join the Federation? Because we value our autonomy."
Acryops stepped up to the Captain and peered at Udrom, frowning.
Udrom's eyebrows rose and he smiled showing white pointed teeth.
"Ah forgive me Captain Picard. I will try to remember your thoughts are your own unless you express them. My apologies…but you don't approve of this meeting?"
"My approval is not required Udrom. I will follow my orders and do my job to the best of my ability."
"Thank you Captain…for your …candour."
They were taken from the building and shown to a suite of rooms nearby. Jean-Luc had his bag beamed down and spent some time setting out his things. He had three hours to kill, so he set his alarm and stretched out on his bed, hoping to get some sleep. His door chime interrupted that plan.

Jean-Luc got up and opened his door, expecting to see Acryops. He was startled to find a tall female Arellian. She pushed past the Captain and began pacing around his room.
"I beg your pardon…who are you and what are you doing in my room?"
"I understand your confusion Captain Picard. My name is Nerella and I have risked much to get to see you. I represent an alliance of people who want these negotiations stopped. Once the consortiums get what they want from the Federation, including weapons, we will be subjugated. You have to return to your ship Captain! The talks must stop now before they start."
Jean-Luc stared at the woman, thinking furiously. Before he could voice his thoughts, she interrupted him.
"I know captain. You're thinking you should call security. Don't. I'm armed and I will use any force necessary to avoid capture. You want to know what's going on? The workers of the planet have been under the rule of the consortiums for generations. Over the last twenty years, we've been trying to achieve self-government, but the consortiums won't allow it. There have been some insurrections, all ruthlessly put down. Thousands of lives have been lost. If these negotiations go ahead it will sound a death knell for my people…we will not give up, they will have to annihilate us."
"You realise that by telling me this, you have compromised me? I don't know if I can keep this from them."
"If the talks fail, it won't be an issue. You're thinking you should contact your superiors. That's a good idea. We're a dirty secret the consortiums have kept for too long. It's about time our struggle became common knowledge. I will leave you now Captain. The telepath who is with you will know of my visit. Can he be trusted?"
"I…I don't know."
"Oh well, we shall see, won't we? Goodbye Captain Picard."
She left and Jean-Luc stood in deep thought for a few moments. He slapped his comm. Badge and called the ship.
"Enterprise this is Picard."
Nothing.
"Enterprise this is Picard, respond please."
When no response was forthcoming, he left his room and went to Acryops. The chime went unanswered so he opened the door and stepped in.
"Acryops?"
With no answer, he entered the bedroom and was stunned to find the telepath unconscious on the floor, bleeding from a head wound. Attached to his temples was a metal device embedded in his skull. Jean-Luc was checking his pulse when he felt a weapon pressed to the base of his neck.
"Don't move Captain!"
He felt the stinging prick of a needle in his shoulder and moments later his vision began to blur. As he pitched forward, his last thought was…
"They know!"

 

 

 

It was the pounding in his head that eventually woke him. He realised soon after that his shoulders were practically screaming with pain. Cracking his eyes open he found that he was tied, his hands behind his back and his arms raised as he leaned forward. A post separated his hands from his body; his feet were tied to it also. Ordering his legs on line, he tried to stand to take the strain off his tortured arms, but he couldn't muster the necessary control. His head was an overwhelming sea of agony and he closed his eyes as nausea rose quickly. He vomited abruptly and continued to retch ineffectually as he tried to get his breath. He didn't hear the door opening.
"Gods what a mess! You filthy dog!"
The blow to his face loosened two teeth and broke his nose. Blood gushed down his chest and it was only then that he realised he was clad only in his briefs. He dimly heard water running but was not prepared when the cold liquid was sloshed over him. He gasped and gagged again, another bucket of water finding its mark.
"There! Now that you're cleaner we can have a little chat."
Jean-Luc tried to lift his head, without success. The drug they had used was incompatible with Humans and he felt the oncoming rush of senselessness.
"Oh no you don't!"
A rough hand pushed his head up and he felt a sharp pain in his temple. Blood trickled down his face as he experienced a sudden jolt throughout his body. He writhed within his bonds and cried out.
"Now you stay with me Captain or you will be 'encouraged' to pay attention!"
Catching his breath, Jean-Luc groaned and opened his eyes. The light lanced in, making him gag again, the pain blooming in his head. He tried to formulate words.
"What…?"
"No, no, no my dear Captain. You don't ask the questions here…I do. Now I know a member of the alliance has been to see you. Who was it?"
In desperation, Jean-Luc formed a picture of a brick wall in his mind and concentrated fiercely on it.
"Now, now Captain that won't do. Here, let me give you some incentive to cooperate."
The electrical current entered his head and coursed through his body. It was stronger than before and he screamed with the pain it caused.
"Consider this Captain. I can take these transponders and attach them to any part of your body. Think of it…in your spine…your genitals…the settings give me the opportunity to experiment, I've never had a Human to play with."
As Jean-Luc's body recovered, he once again formed the wall in his mind.
"Stop it! It's pointless you puny Human!"
The next shock was too high and Jean-Luc passed out.

 

 

 

 

On the Enterprise, Beverly was preparing for bed when her door chimed. Bidding the caller entry, she was annoyed to see Deanna enter her living area.
"Hello Deanna, what can I do for you?"
The Counsellor frowned at Beverly's tone, the feelings of irritation washing over her. Erecting her mental barriers, Deanna settled herself and offered a truce.
"Beverly I know you don't want to see me right now, but your discomfort can be felt decks away. Let me help…please?"
What started as a glare of defiance became a grimace of contrition.
"I'm sorry Deanna. It's just…I didn't go to the transporter room to see him off and I'm feeling a little guilty about it."
Deanna thought about that then shook her head.
"No there's more."
This time Beverly did glare.
"Look I told you before, I don't want to talk about it!"
"It's eating away at you Beverly. How long do you think before it starts affecting your work…your sleep?"
Beverly's muttered, "It already has." was nearly missed by the Counsellor.
"What has?"
"My sleep. I dream of him Deanna. He inhabits my every thought awake or asleep."
"What does that tell you?"
"I don't know…that I'm obsessed?"
"Not obsessed Beverly…in love."
Beverly wandered to the sofa and sat, distracted by her thoughts.
"It doesn't make sense! I'm not some puerile adolescent suffering from an infatuation. I can't understand what's happening to me."
Deanna came and sat next to her friend, taking her hand.
"Beverly have you ever considered that he may just be the love of your life?"
Beverly turned startled blue eyes upon the Counsellor.
"But what about Jack?"
"Did you feel this deeply for him?"
"I loved him…"
"Yes, but you were young and inexperienced. Was the love you felt for Jack so all-encompassing, so profound?"
"I…I don't know."
"Well you've got something to think about then haven't you? If you can see your way through this, I think you'll know what to do."
Beverly didn't register her friend's departure. She sat on the sofa deep in thought.
"Did I love Jack as much as I love Jean-Luc? Well of course I did, I married him didn't I? We had Wesley and five glorious years together. Then he died. Jean-Luc has been in love with me since we first met. He loved me even though I married his best friend…and I knew. I teased him and flirted outrageously…how that must have hurt him…but Deanna's right, I was young…and carefree. Could I have that again…with Jean-Luc? Is what I feel for him more mature, more based on years of friendship and…yes…love?
He's loved me unreservedly for thirty years…can I love him with the same commitment? The same steadfast resolve? Oh God, what have I done?"

 

 

 

Before Will retired for the night, he put in a call to the Bridge.
"Bridge, Riker here."
"Yes Sir?"
"Has there been any communication from Captain Picard?"
"No Sir, none."
"Thank you, Riker out."
Will wandered into his bedroom, frowning in thought.
"That's unusual, he usually reports in. Oh well, he's probably up to his eyebrows in negotiations and is sound asleep by now. He'll contact us tomorrow."
Will stretched out on his bed and sighed. Still thinking of his Captain, he drifted off to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc was awakened with a slap across his face.
"Come on Captain…wakey wakey. I have things to do and you're holding me up."
As he became aware, his mind seized on the image of the wall. His tormentor sighed.
"Not that again! Look let me be clear. You cannot keep this up. Eventually I will find out what I want…you can't hold out forever. Save yourself the anguish Captain. Relax and let your mind wander…I'll do all the work."
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and concentrated on the image.
"Stubborn fool!"
Unbeknown to the suffering man, a second transponder had been placed over his lower spine. When the shock hit he convulsed in agony, barely able to scream. Some of the bricks in the wall began to tumble and he fought to re-assemble them.
"I suppose you're wondering what's going on? Well I'll enlighten you. You were requested for a very specific purpose. Above all the other Captains in Starfleet, you alone have the record of diplomatic excellence we needed. We knew you were not in favour of the negotiations…you preferred to see us join the Federation, didn't you? Well, as Udrom already explained, we didn't want that. If you hadn't been contacted by the alliance, we would have concluded the talks, completed the deal and nobody would've been the wiser. The Federation would have gotten what it wanted and we would have gotten what we wanted. However, the contact by the alliance changed all that. Once we have the information we seek, you and the Dellar telepath will be held as hostages until the Federation accedes to our demands. The rules may have changed, but the game remains the same. The consortiums will never give in to the alliance and if we can't get what we want from the Federation, we will go elsewhere. You, my dear Captain will become just another casualty of this distasteful dispute. Now…who contacted you?"
In the ensuing time, Jean-Luc had re-assembled the wall and he let it grow in his mind. He didn't hear the sneer as the shock coursed through his body.
Gasping in agony, he slumped against his bonds. His tormentor laughed cruelly.
"You know…you're really quite amusing. You should see yourself, the great Starfleet Captain, reduced to a quivering mass by just a few shocks! Members of the alliance have more spine than you Picard, at least they suffer in silence."
The next jolt surged through his body and he writhed in a rictus of anguish.
"Just tell me the name Picard, that's all…just the name."
Jean-Luc's mind scrambled to form the wall. As sweat dripped from him, he squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated, willing his reeling brain to hold on to the image.
"You'll regret that!"
He became aware of a second person in the room as he was roughly held upright and his briefs were torn from him. A third transponder was brutally attached to his testicles and he cried out at the assault. He was left to slump forward again, his shoulder muscles tearing with his weight.
"I've been told that the testicles of a Human male are very…sensitive. Shall we see?"
Jean-Luc lifted his head and shook it slowly, tears in his eyes.
"Don't…"
The pain was too much. He writhed, convulsed, vomited and passed out.

 

 

 

He could barely function when they woke him, but still he summoned the wall.
"This is taking too long! We can't keep the dampening field active for too much longer. If his ship tries to locate him…"
"I'm aware of you concerns Udrom."
"What have you done with the Dellarite?"
Bleck, Jean-Luc's tormentor shrugged his bare shoulders.
"He was…damaged by the probe. We have him confined."
Udrom stood in front of Jean-Luc and sniffed with disgust.
"He stinks!"
Bleck laughed and rose to stand with his superior.
"So would you if…"
"Enough Bleck! Get the information by tomorrow or kill him."
Jean-Luc dimly heard the door open and close and shivered when he felt Bleck's breath on his cheek.
"Well Captain I suppose you heard him. What do you think I should do? Hmm? More of the same?"
Jean-Luc closed his eyes and wearily stiffened the wall.
"Ah Captain…wrong answer. You are stubborn. Alright then, something different."
Rough hands cut his bonds, allowing him to fall to the floor. He sensed movement and soon he was rudely picked up and pushed onto a steel chair. Once again he was tied, this time to the arms and legs of the chair.
The blow to the shins was unexpected and agonising. Before he could process the pain, his stomach was assaulted. He was beaten with batons until nearly senseless, then a mild shock was passed through his body to revive him. The pain radiated out from his head, spine and testicles. His voice now a ruined parody of its former mellifluous quality, he still cried out, his tears mingling with his blood.
Hard hands grabbed his head, forcing his eyes open. He felt the presence in his mind and focussed on the first thing that came to his battered mind…Beverly.

 

 

 

 

 

Will woke the next day feeling refreshed and eager to get to the Bridge. He was pleased when his door chime sounded and left his quarters in the company of Deanna Troi. They entered the Bridge together and took their customary seats.
"Good morning all. Ops, any contact from Captain Picard?"
"No Sir."
Will frowned and turned to Deanna, raising his eyebrows.
Deanna centred herself and let her powerful mind reach out for the familiar sensation of the Captain. After a few moments she frowned and shook her head.
"I can't sense him at all. Something seems to be blocking me."
"What about Acryops?"
"No, I'm not getting anything at all from the planet."
Will straightened and placed his hands on his knees. Raising his head, he attempted communication.
"Enterprise to Picard."
Silence.
"Enterprise calling Captain Picard, respond please."
When no reply was forthcoming, he turned to the Counsellor and scowled.
"What the hell's going on? Engineering this is the Bridge."
"LaForge here."
"Geordie we can't contact the Captain and Counsellor Troi is being blocked. See what's going on and report back."
"Aye Sir."
They had only minutes to wait.
"Commander this is Engineering. They've got a dampening field in place."
"Can we punch through it?"
"I think so, but it'll take a while."
"Do it!"
"Why? Why the hell would they place a dampening field over the planet?"
Deanna sighed and touched his hand.
"Maybe they just want some privacy Will. We don't know all that much about them."
Will ran a hand over his beard and looked sceptically at his friend.
"Yeah well I don't like it. They never mentioned anything about it when the Captain greeted them."
Deanna frowned, sensing the growing frustration in her former lover.
"Be patient Will."
He snorted and waited for Geordie to work his wonders.

 

 

 

 

 

By now the slaps to his face had become commonplace. His nose slowly dripped blood down his chest as he became aware that Bleck was showing him something.
"Come on Picard…focus, that's it. See this? This is the control for the transponders. I thought you'd like to see me activate it."
With sick fascination, Jean-Luc watched the man's thumb slowly move over the buttons. He flinched as the digit paused, then moved again, eliciting a cruel laugh from Bleck.
"No not that one Picard. You pass out when I press that one. No…I think this one."
His thumb hovered over a button and suddenly descended.
Jean-Luc's head snapped back and he screamed, losing control of his bladder. As the shock passed, the batons struck his hands. He felt several bones break and he sobbed in utter misery. Again the hands lifted his head and Bleck's eyes bored into his head.
"I will get in Picard…you cannot stop me."
"Beverly…"
Bleck stood up and kicked Jean-Luc in frustration.
"Who is she Picard? We know you're not married…a lover perhaps? She must be something for you to cling to her so strongly. No matter, eventually we will dispose of her as well. Now, again, who came to you?"
Jean-Luc closed his swollen eyes and brought up an image of Beverly, one he often thought of. She was in his quarters, sitting on the sofa, one leg drawn up sipping a cup of chamomile tea. She wore an emerald green skirt and a soft peach top that clung in all the right places. He had spoken to her and she'd turned her head, the light catching the fire of her hair. At that moment he knew he'd never seen a more beautiful woman.
He thought of that now and when the shock hit him, he heard his scream as if from somewhere else.

 

 

 

 

 

It was three hours before Geordie contacted the Bridge.
"Commander we can get through now."
"At last! Can we find the Captain?"
"No Sir."
Standing, Will turned to the viewscreen.
"Ops open a channel."
He was annoyed to find a junior clerk had answered.
"I'm sorry Commander Riker, your Captain is in conference and can't be disturbed."
"Nevertheless I would like…"
Will stopped when an upset Deanna grabbed his arm. He swung around and made a cutting gesture across his throat, severing communications.
"What?"
"Will something's terribly wrong with the Captain! I feel pain…agony…we've got to get him…now!"
Returning his attention to the screen, he nodded to Ops to recommence the link.
"I'm sorry, I didn't get your name?"
The clerk shifted in his chair and peered down his nose.
"I am Frick, junior adjutant for…"
"Yes of course. I would like to speak to your superior Frick…now."
"I'm sure I can…"
"No you can't. Get your superior now, or I'll come down there myself with a party of security officers."
Frick paled somewhat and muted the sound. He could be seen frantically pressing buttons and talking. Abruptly his image disappeared and another took its place.
"I am Dreff, senior aide to Delegate Udrom. What do you want?"
"I want to speak to Captain Picard!"
That's not possible at this time. We…"
"Make it possible."
Dreff stiffened, his ebony face growing shades darker.
"Now you look here, we don't take kindly to…"
"No you look here. We have reason to believe our Captain needs our help and we'll stop at nothing to get him. Do you have any idea what our phasers and photon torpedoes can do to your planet from orbit?"
"You wouldn't dare!"
"Believe it! Now I'm going to send down some officers and you're going to take them to Captain Picard…understand?"
Dreff pulled down the corners of his mouth and glared at Will.
"Very well, but we will be lodging a formal complaint with your superiors!"
"As you wish."
Will severed the contact and called Data, Beverly and Worf to the Bridge.
When they arrived, he briefed them.
"Something's wrong with the Captain. I want you all armed. Worf, take three security personnel and go down there, find him and bring him back. Beverly take a med kit. Deanna I want you to go as well…Data your responsibility will be Beverly and Counsellor Troi. We don't know what's going on down there and I don't want to take any chances."
The assembled officers nodded and left the Bridge to gather their equipment and phasers. The last thing they heard was Will saying…
"Bring him home."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc felt the invasion of his mind even before he was fully conscious. It pervaded his thoughts, coiling around like a snake. He sobbed and shook his head, calling up the picture of his beloved Beverly. The presence expanded and pain blossomed encompassing everything he had. He screamed and suddenly a white light seared through his brain. He noted the shutdown and let it happen, gratefully accepting the oblivion and the respite from the torture.
Bleck let Jean-Luc's head go and stood back, rubbing his temples.
"Damn!"
He picked up the control and pressed a button. Jean-Luc's body jerked, but there was no other response. He slapped his face and had his cohorts beat him with the batons, but still there was no response.
"What have you done?"
"I don't know! He seems to be comatose."
"Well bring him out of it! His ship is sending down a party to find him, we're running out of time!"
Bleck spat on Jean-Luc and slapped him again.
"I don't know how! He's Human…I've never had a Human here before. I didn't know they were so…fragile."
"What about the Dellarite? Has he recovered yet?"
"No."
"Well keep working on him. I'll deflect his shipmates, you wake him up. We need answers!"
After Udrom left, Bleck lifted Jean-Luc's face and noted the complete lack of muscle tone. He sent a shock through his body almost as an afterthought.
"No…you're gone."

 

 

 

 

 

The away team materialised in the same large building the Captain and Acryops had arrived in. They were met by Dreff.
"I believe you wish to see your Captain? If you will follow me…"
He led them off in a northerly direction. They had gone only a few metres when Deanna stopped them.
"This is the wrong way! He is…"
She turned and closed her eyes, concentrating.
"…this way."
She led the team to the south, Dreff running to catch them.
"Wait! You're going the wrong way. Your Captain is…"
He lifted his arm and pointed to the other direction.
"He's lying."
Dreff blanched, opened his mouth, then suddenly bolted.
Alone, the team turned to Deanna.
"This way."
Phasers drawn, they left the building and found themselves on a broad street. The inhabitants scuttled out of their way, easily reading their belligerent thoughts. They had gone two blocks when an armed party came running around the corner. They immediately took cover as the first shots were fired. Pinned down, they were returning fire when Data spoke to Deanna.
"Could you find the Captain from the Enterprise?"
"No I don't think so."
"Could you find him from here?"
"I…I'll try."
She closed her eyes, ignoring the phaser blasts and shots ringing through the air.
"Data…I think…I can get close…"
"Can you tell the Enterprise where to put us?"
"Yes I think so."
Data slapped his combadge.
"Enterprise prepare to transport to new coordinates."
Deanna relayed her information and soon the six crew disappeared in a sparkle of blue light. They rematerialised outside a nondescript grey building on the outskirts of the city.
Deanna gathered herself and suddenly pointed to the black door.
"In there!"
A short phaser blast took care of the lock and they entered at a crouch expecting resistance. There was none. Moving down a dark corridor, Deanna led them into a room that had a staircase in the far corner. Unerringly, she led them down three flights of stairs and paused at the bottom, before turning to her left and confronting a large locked duranium door.
"We've got to get through that. He's close…but for some reason…he's barely registering. It's as if…he must be unconscious."
Deanna sensed something much worse, but kept it to herself.
Worf and two of his security team went to work with their phasers and within minutes they had defeated the locked door.
They ran down a long corridor until Deanna suddenly stopped.
"He's very close…check all these rooms."
The first two rooms were empty and in the third they found Acryops. Bound and unconscious, he was on the floor, still with the metal instruments attached to his head. Worf left two crew to stay with him as the rest continued with their search.
The fifth door they came to was locked. Made of wood, it was no match for Worf's massive shoulder. It splintered as he crashed into it. They spilled into the room to find three men beating a senseless Jean-Luc.
"Stop!"
Bleck sprang to the far side of the room, reaching for a weapon. Worf fired and Bleck's body danced in the beam before falling to the ground. The two other henchmen dropped their batons and raised their hands. Beverly pushed forward and caught sight of Jean-Luc for the first time.
"Oh my God!"
She ran to him and crouched down, scanning him with a medical tricorder. Data came forward and undid the bonds, holding Jean-Luc's body upright. When Beverly didn't move after a few minutes, Deanna went to her.
"Beverly what is it?"
Tears were slowly rolling down Beverly's face. Without taking her eyes off Jean-Luc she whispered…
"There's no synaptic activity…none at all. My God what have they done to him?"
"Beverly what does it mean?"
"He's brain damaged."

 

They materialised in Sickbay, quickly Beverly's well-trained staff sprang into action. Acryops was placed on a biobed with Doctor Selar scanning him. Jean-Luc was also placed on a biobed, his body battered and limp.
Beverly barked her orders to her staff.
"We need to get him to surgery, he's bleeding internally and has numerous broken bones. We have to find a way to remove those devices attached to him and I want a level three brain scan initiated! Come on people…move!"
Will Riker arrived just as the Captain disappeared into the surgical suite. Without Beverly to question, he turned his attention to Deanna.
"How is he?"
Deanna faced her Imzadi with tears in her eyes.
"It's bad Will. Beverly says he's got no synaptic activity in his brain…that he's brain damaged. He's been tortured…there's broken bones and internal injuries and he has some devices attached to his body, pain inducers no doubt…Gods Will, why him? Why didn't we see the danger?"
Will ran a hand through his dark hair and expelled a forceful breath.
"I don't know, but I intend to ask our 'visitors' in the brig. Worf had the three you found with the Captain beamed up. Would you like to help me question them?"
"You'll have to be careful Will, they're telepaths. How do you intend to conduct the interrogation?"
"I'll keep my mind on the job and try to quell my anger…that's where you come in. I need your stability Deanna."
The Counsellor gripped his arm and pulled him down so that she could plant a quick kiss on his cheek.
"You have it Imzadi…always."
Will straightened and looked again at the surgery suite doors.
"You'll stay here?"
"Until you need me, yes."
"You'll let me know…?"
Deanna nodded and Will left, his big frame filling the doorway as he passed through.

 

 

 

 

 

After fusing the broken bones and repairing the damaged internal organs, Beverly turned her attention to the transponders attached to Jean-Luc's body. Working first on the one on his head, she scanned it and was waiting for the computer to finish analysing it when Selar entered the room.
With her usual Vulcan stoicism, she stood quietly looking down at the stricken man.
Beverly glanced up and nodded.
"How is Acryops?"
"We have repaired his physical injuries, but the device attached to his head has, so far, defeated us. Until we can ascertain its purpose, we can't remove it."
Beverly looked up and frowned.
"Its purpose? Do you think it's linked directly to his brain?"
"Yes Doctor Crusher, I do, but for what reason…I'm not sure. Perhaps it has something to do with telepathy, as he shares that ability with his captors."
Just then the computer beeped, catching Beverly's attention. She squinted at the readout and spat…
"Those bastards! They're pain inducers all right, directly connected to the nerve ends. We need to check for damage to the spinal cord, his genitals and the neural pathways of his brain. We can remove them, one at a time…but very carefully. Any wrong move could result in further damage. We'll start with the one on his spine. Selar can you assist?"
"Yes Doctor, of course."
They gently turned Jean-Luc over; the staff wincing at the sight of more heavily bruised flesh. Beverly noted the device was active and scanned it again to see if she could deactivate it. The tricorder whirred and beeped, an audible click coming from the device, its lights extinguishing.
"Right it's off. Hand me a retractor."
It took ten minutes of gentle prising, but the evil transponder finally came free. With the autosuture she closed the resulting wound, then they gently turned him back over.
"Ok, that's one. Now we work on his testicles."
With the same gentle determination, the device was removed, then Beverly moved to Jean-Luc's head.
"Selar run a scan to see how deeply this one is embedded. I'll deactivate it and connect him to a neural scanner."
The two Doctors worked silently, Selar finishing first.
"Doctor Crusher the device has infiltrated the parietal lobe. The tendrils extend to the corpus callosum. Removing it is going to be extremely difficult."
Beverly looked up and smiled grimly.
"Well we'll just have to be very careful then, won't we?"

 

 

 

 

After an hour of fruitless work they were no closer to removing the transponder.
"Dammit! The filaments are too deeply embedded. How the hell are we supposed to remove the bloody thing?"
Selar raised one perfect eyebrow and thought.
"Why don't we re-activate it?"
"What? Why would we do that?"
"Perhaps we can ascertain how to make the device retract the tendrils."
Beverly stared at her fellow Doctor for some seconds before coming to a decision.
"That might just work. Alyssa hand me a tricorder."
She scanned the device and, with the aid of the main computer, re-activated it. With its small lights blinking, it emitted a beep and a click.
"Right. Now we see if we can…"
Suddenly Jean-Luc's body arched up from the bed and shuddered. His breathing became laboured and the cardiac monitor sounded an alarm.
"He's convulsing! Tricordrazine, ten cc's."
As the drug infiltrated his system he relaxed until he was again lying quietly on the bed.
Beverly checked her tricorder.
"What happened? I was scanning the device…Damn! I somehow triggered an electrical discharge. That must be how the pain was induced. Ok, if that's true then this must be…"
With another click of activation, the top half of the circular device rotated half a turn and stopped, the lights staying on.
Selar consulted the computer readout.
"The filaments have retracted two point five centimetres. The corpus callosum is now free of infiltration."
"Good. Now according to this…I should calibrate the next command to…There!"
The circular piece completed its turn and, after a moment's soft beeping, the lights switched off and the device deactivated.
"The filaments have fully retracted. We should be able to extract the anchoring spikes from the sub cutaneous tissue and bone without further concerns."
With some gentle prising, the device came free leaving three nasty wounds in Jean-Luc's left temple. The application of an autosuture erased the injuries and his head was cleansed of the spilt blood.
A series of scans was initiated to assess the damage to his spinal cord and genitals, Beverly frowning deeply as she read the results.
"There has been significant disruption to the neural pathways of his spine. He's going to require intensive regen therapy to regain the full use of his legs. We'd better check…"
Beverly looked up from the terminal and addressed her staff.
"With the exception of Doctor Selar, I would like you all to leave us now please."
Her staff filed out and Beverly looked frankly at her fellow Doctor.
"We should check his genitals…see if he can attain an erection and ejaculate. I thought he would appreciate some privacy."
Selar said nothing as Beverly retrieved the necessary equipment. Placing a stimulator band around the base of his flaccid penis, she activated it and waited. Nothing happened.
"Damn. The nerves have been damaged here too."
She removed the band and covered him with a sheet.
"We can move him to his private room. I'll set up a regen field over the worst of his injuries and connect him to a neural stimulator. Selar I want you to concentrate on Acryops. Remove the device on his head and compare the damage with Captain Picard. I want to know if their conditions are similar. We might be able to bring him out of this comatose state if we can learn a little more. Once the Captain is settled in his room, I'm going down to the detention cells and ask our 'visitors' some questions. Keep me appraised of any changes, no matter how slight."
"Yes Sir."
The next hour was spent installing Jean-Luc in his private room and connecting him to the numerous monitors and regen fields. Once she was satisfied he was safe and comfortable, Beverly left Sickbay for the Brig.

 

 

Will was quickly becoming angry.
"What do you mean… 'Diplomatic immunity'?"
"There is no need for you to get upset Commander. As I explained I was acting on the orders of my government and, as your Captain was directly involved with the government, he was under my jurisdiction."
"That makes no sense! You kidnapped and tortured a member of the Federation, a Starfleet Captain, and you claim you have immunity from prosecution? How could you think you could do such a thing and get away with it?"
"You forget we are a non-aligned species. What happens on our planet is not your concern."
"It is when it involves our Captain!"
"You're getting angry again Commander. Your thoughts tell me that you wish to do me physical harm. Does that not make us of similar mind?"
"No! I'm angry because you hurt my Captain, whom I also consider a friend, and you show no remorse. In fact you calmly sit there and pass off your actions as nothing more that departmental policy. I ask you again, why did you capture and torture Captain Picard?"
"And I answer you again Commander, I was acting on orders from my government. I know nothing other than that."
Will stalked in front of the energy field separating him from Bleck.
He was about to erupt when Deanna gripped his arm. He looked down into the black depths of her eyes and relented. She stepped up to the barrier.
"I sense your uneasiness Bleck. You're hiding something."
Bleck stood and walked closer.
"I've heard of your species…Betazoid aren't you? Why don't you just read my thoughts?"
"I'm not fully Betazoid, I'm half Human. I'm not telepathic, my gift is empathy. I sense how people feel."
"I see, how interesting. Not very useful in my line of work."
His sardonic smile made Will bridle, his dark thoughts bringing a wider smile to the Arellian.
"Now Commander…a little restraint would be beneficial."
Will glowered at the man, but said nothing. Deanna cleared her throat.
"What I said before still stands. You're hiding something."
"We all hide things we'd rather not share."
"Amongst a species of telepaths I find that unlikely."
"Perhaps, but I'm not amongst telepaths here…am I?"
"No, that's true, although I have my ways."
This brought a laugh from the prisoner.
"Come now Counsellor. You can't possibly expect to pit your mind against mine! You wouldn't stand a chance."
"I won't enter a contest, no…however I still maintain I can get what I want from you."
Bleck folded his arms across his chest and rocked back on his heels. Looking down his nose, he snorted.
"I doubt that."
Deanna walked slowly back and forth in front of the imprisoned man.
"Why do you feel a stab of guilt when Captain Picard's name is mentioned?"
Bleck pursed his thin lips and frowned.
"What happened was…unfortunate…unintentional. I'd never had a Human to work on before. I had no idea their brains were so fragile."
"So why did you do it?"
"Conventional methods were taking too long. I had been requested to retrieve information and your Captain was being…reticent."
"He was fighting you."
"In a limited fashion. It was only a matter of time before he broke, but time was not something I had a lot of."
"So what did you do?"
Bleck smiled in an oily way and winked at the Counsellor.
"Wouldn't you like to know?"
"The Captain is in a comatose state. It seems reasonable to assume you assaulted him telepathically. Can he be retrieved?"
A frown creased Bleck's dark brow and Deanna felt the regret wash over her.
"To be honest, I don't know. As I said I'm unfamiliar with Humans."
"I find it unusual that you feel sorrow for one of your victims. Considering what it is you do, I would have thought a measure of indifference was required."
"Normally you would be correct. I don't usually feel anything for my…subjects."
"But Captain Picard?"
Bleck sighed and sat on his bunk, lowering his head.
"He was one of Udrom's schemes. He has no finesse, no pride in what he does. He brought your Captain to me and expected answers immediately…he had no appreciation of the effort involved from either my subject or me. Captain Picard was…is…a unique individual, far stronger than I anticipated. I would've liked more time to study him…are all Humans as strong as he?"
"So you do regret what you did to him?"
"Yes, I suppose I do."
…"Then you'll be willing to help me!"
Beverly stopped next to Deanna and glared at Bleck.
He stood, smiled and sauntered to the force field.
"And who might you be?"
"I am Doctor Beverly Crusher and I need some answers to help my patient."
"Your patient being…?"
"Captain Picard."
"You care for him…a great deal. Doesn't that affect your objectivity?"
"Mind your own business! What did you do to him?"
Bleck smiled and cocked his head to one side.
"Your terrified he might not recover! In fact this is an old fear, one that has paralysed your feelings from being explored with him. Yes! You're the woman he thought of! Do you know he…loves you?"
Beverly pinched the bridge of her nose as Deanna gripped her shoulder. It was the Counsellor who spoke next.
"You have felt remorse for what you did to the Captain. Whatever was going on down on the planet is over. You are in our custody and will remain so at least for the interim. What possible motive could you have for continuing to assault the Captain by not helping him now? You've already admitted you admire him. It may well count in your favour in the future if you help us."
"If I answer you, will you tell me how you maintain your mental barriers against my probing?"
"Bleck…"
"Alright! I used an invasive method called intrascanning. I forced myself into his mind and quashed all his individuality. I took away his sense of self, his memories, everything that made him who he was. With another Arellian it would enable me to sort through the detritus and retrieve any information I wanted. It's a little drastic and time consuming, but normally, the subject recovers with very few after effects."
"Can you…reverse the process?"
"I don't know, I never had to before. What you're asking…I would have to attempt to restore him…I don't think I can."
Beverly's hands formed into fists at her sides.
"Well will you at least try?"
"In all truth Doctor, I think it would do more harm than good."
"So you won't help."
"Look at it from my perspective Doctor. If I try to help you and he worsens it will not go well for me, now will it? As your fellow officer has already pointed out, I'm in trouble. I've no wish to exacerbate my position."
"But Goddamn it Bleck…"
Deanna held Beverly's arm silencing her.
"Can you tell us what it was you were trying to get from the Captain?"
Bleck sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
"Apparently your Captain had been contacted by the alliance. Udrom wanted to know whom, exactly, contacted him. With a name, he could unearth the cell and find the rest of the collaborators. It would've taken a lot of sympathetic people to get them in to see Captain Picard….he was in a Federal building after all. It could have been very…productive."
Will stepped forward frowning.
"The alliance?"
Bleck sighed again and waved his hand dismissively.
"Ask Udrom….I don't delve into politics."
The three Starfleet officers left the holding cell and paused in the corridor. Once the doors had closed, Beverly hissed…
"Bastard! He won't help, the lowlife lump of…"
Deanna held up her hand.
"Beverly how is the Captain? Has there been any change?"
"No! In fact we've found he's got spinal damage and damage to his genitals, let alone the brain damage. My God what he must have gone through!"
"What about Acryops?"
"No joy there either. He's in some kind of coma, induced we think, by a device attached to his head."
"Like the Captain had?"
"No, different. What are you thinking Deanna?"
"Acryops is a powerful telepath. If he recovers maybe he could help with Captain Picard."
Beverly's eyes opened wide.
"Yes! I'll get back to Sickbay straight away and Selar and I will double our efforts."
She left, her lab coat flapping. Will looked down at his best friend.
"Do you think it's a real chance…that Acryops can help?"
Deanna watched Beverly's receding back.
"I don't know…I hope so."

 

 

 

 

 

Selar looked again at the readout and ran the medical scanner over the instrument attached to the Dellarite's head. She picked up a tricorder and passed it over his temple, frowning at the result. Tapping in some commands, the device emitted a soft beep and two halves of a circle separated, giving access to its innards.
Again Selar scanned it and inputted some more commands. Two of three lights went off and, after further study; Selar reached down and pressed a button on the device. The final green light went red, then extinguished. She checked the twin on his other temple to find it deactivated. Watching the computer monitor, Selar gently lifted the device from Acryops' temple. It came away with some skin attached, causing a slight bleed. It was soon repaired and the other device removed. Acryops now lay free of the instruments.
Beverly entered the room and stood silently by his bed, reading the results of the scans.
"Is there any synaptic activity?"
"Yes Doctor, but very low grade. He is still deeply unconscious; yet better than he was before. I believe he will recover, although I do not know when."
"How is Captain Picard?"
"No change Doctor. Did you find out anything useful?"
"I can tell you he was violated telepathically. His mind was infiltrated by another's thoughts and everything he was has been subjugated. All memories, all sense of self…all gone."
Selar frowned and shook her head.
"I was with him just a few moments ago. Physically he is recovering well. We passed a stimulator down his legs and got a good response. He is a very strong individual Doctor. Given the level of care he will receive here, I can only predict he will recover."
It was as close to an emotional response as she could muster and Beverly was grateful.
"Thank you Selar, I'm sure you're right. I think I'll go and sit with him for a while. Will you be alright here?"
"Yes Doctor."
Beverly left the main room and entered the quiet surrounds of the Captain's private room.
He lay on the bed, now dressed in blue Sickbay pyjamas and covered by a light blanket. Beverly drew up a chair and sat beside him and, watching his chest rise and fall, was lulled into a light doze.
She awoke an hour later, startled to find her head on her arms next to his head. She rose and stretched and froze when she looked down at him. His eyes were open.
"Jean-Luc?"
Nothing.
She passed her hand in front of his unseeing gaze and nothing happened. She snapped her fingers. He didn't blink. Checking the monitor, she picked up a medical tricorder and scanned him. She sighed when she read the results and gently closed his eyes.
"Sleep my love, we'll find a way to bring you home."

 

 

 

For the next thirty-six hours, Jean-Luc's body continued to heal but his mind stayed closed down. No stimuli could rouse him, he responded to nothing.
Beverly taped his eyes shut to prevent damage when she found he'd gone through the night with his unblinking eyes open.
Acryops, on the other hand, started to improve. His wounds healed, his brain activity began to manifest itself in increased action in his neural output and, on the fourth day, his eyes slowly opened. Beverly was by his side.
He looked groggily around him and raised his hand to his head. Beverly gently took his hand and placed it on the bed.
"Easy there, you've had quite a spell."
He focussed his eyes on her and summoned his voice.
"I have been…away."
"Yes. You were assaulted and suffered a brain injury. We have been treating you."
He thought about that for a while then said, his eyes widening…
"The Arellians!"
"It's alright, they failed. We have their torturers aboard confined to our Brig. They can't hurt you any more."
He grabbed Beverly's hand and stared into her eyes.
"No…Captain Picard…he won't be able to withstand…"
"He's here."
"Here? In Sickbay? Is he alright?"
Beverly turned her head and looked at the door to his private room. Turning back to her patient, she shook her head sadly.
"No Acryops, he's not alright at all. Apart from severe physical injuries he suffered a brain assault that we cannot treat."
Acryops attempted to sit up. Beverly gently pushed him down.
"No you don't, I want you to rest."
"But I…what kind of assault was it? Who did it?"
"Bleck was the assailant. He said it was called intrascanning."
Acryops closed his eyes and shook his head.
"That's very bad. In a Dellarite it causes…well you've seen what it does to us."
"He did it to you too? I though that might be the case, but we know so little about these kinds of assaults."
"You must let me up, I think I can help your Captain."
"How?"
"With luck I can infiltrate myself into his mind and undo the damage Bleck has done."
"With luck? I need something more substantial than that."
Acryops brushed Beverly's hands aside and slowly sat up. He leaned forward slightly and grasped her forearms.
"I've had some experience recovering people from this kind of…violation. Let me try…what have you got to lose?"
Beverly frowned, looking down at the earnest Dellarite. Coming to a decision, she freed her arms.
"Alright, we'll do it, but let me set up some monitors first. I want to record everything."
While Beverly was busy, Acryops had a drink and something to eat. When she was ready she wheeled him into Jean-Luc's room.

 

 

 

 

At his request, Acryops was stationed behind Jean-Luc's head. He leaned forward and placed both hands around Jean-Luc's brow and closed his eyes. He slowly lowered his head until his brow touched the crown of the Captain's head.
For some time, nothing happened. Beverly carefully monitored both patients, noting increased brain activity in the Dellarite. Acryops soon began to sweat and his body started to tremble. Beverly was about to say something to him when she saw the first spike of activity in Jean-Luc's brain waves.

 

 

 

 

In the quiet of Jean-Luc's mind, an intruder presented itself. At first not disturbed, he soon became aware of pain emanating from around the intruder. He tried to repel it, turning his mind to the task and expending all his energy to make it go away.
The pain increased. He was in trouble, he knew it. Using all the force he could muster, he tried to escape the intruder, but it pursued him, eventually cornering him.
Panicked and exhausted, the pain an overwhelming sensation in his mind, he fell to his knees, sobbing with anguish.
"No more…please, no more."
He sensed, rather than saw the bright light. With it came a lessening of the agony and he became aware of a gentle voice.
"Jean-Luc…come to me."
All he could see was the light.
"Where are you?"
"I am here…I am everywhere. Relax and open you mind."
"No! I must hold on…they will…"
"They are gone Jean-Luc. They hurt you and I will restore you. All you have to do is open your mind."
He shook his head.
"It's a trick! You will take my…"
"No Jean-Luc. It's Acryops who talks to you. Trust me as I have trusted you. Open your mind."
Jean-Luc sobbed and gasped.
"I don't know what to do!"
Beverly watched as the struggling Acryops began to groan in pain. His grip tightened on the Captain's head, sweat running freely from both men.
"Relax Jean-Luc, don't fight me. Think of Beverly, think of the one you love."
The image of his beloved came easily to him. She appeared in his mind and he sighed with the sense of serenity she brought.
"That's it Jean-Luc let the image carry you. Expand it in you mind, take the image to another plane."
In his mind the image of Beverly transformed. No longer an alluring figure sitting on his sofa, she was in uniform and on duty. On the Enterprise. The Enterprise!
Suddenly a multitude of images flooded into his mind. Will, Deanna, Data, everyone he knew was there. His quarters, the Bridge…and then pictures of his past, his childhood in LaBarre, the Academy…it was a riot of images, his memory cascading back.
He gasped, his body arching up from the table. Acryops maintained the connection, though it obviously caused him great pain. His own gasps could be heard above Jean-Luc's
He tried to open his eyes and encountered the tape. Panicking, he violently shook his head from side to side, his hands restrained at his sides.
Beverly administered a hypospray of light sedative and quickly removed the tape.
Jean-Luc's eyes snapped open, his chest heaving. He stared wildly around the room until he saw Beverly. He stilled immediately, a sob ripped from his throat.
"It's alright! Jean-Luc listen to me. You're safe, it's over. You're on the Enterprise…take it easy now, just relax, everything's ok."
She looked up briefly to find Acryops slumped in his chair. Calling Selar, he was taken from the room and treated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc tried to find his voice. Still ruined from his torture all he could manage was a whisper.
"Beverly."
She turned to him, tears in her eyes.
"I'm here Jean-Luc."
"My hands…"
"Here let me release them."
Once his hands were free, he raised shaking arms to his beloved Beverly.
She was in them in a moment. Clutching him around the shoulders, she whispered in his ear,
"I love you."
It was the words he'd longed to hear. Tears welled up in his eyes and he hugged her with all his meagre strength.
"Beverly…my sweet Beverly, I have loved you for so long…"
"Shh my love. I want you to rest now. You've been through hell and back. It's time for you to get better."
She straightened and gently ran her hand down his face. He could feel the sedative dogging his mind and he sighed, whispering,
"Will you be here when I wake up?"
"Just try and stop me."
He smiled as his eyes drifted closed and, as he slipped into sleep, the smile stayed on his face.

 

 

 

 

Acryops was lying quietly when Beverly came to see him. Seemingly over his ordeal, he'd been bathed and had a change of pyjamas. Beverly tenderly took his hand.
"Thank you so much for what you did. You restored to me the man I love. There is nothing I can do to repay you…"
"Nothing is required dear Doctor, it was my pleasure to be able to help. But I must tell you, he is not fully restored. His memories are complete up to his capture, but he remembers nothing of his torture…yet."
"Yet?"
"He will remember…he must."
"Must he? Wouldn't it be kinder to leave him..?"
"Doctor…you know as well as I that that isn't possible. If I don't help him to retrieve those memories, they will surface in the future only to devastate him. Do you want that?"
Beverly frowned and shook her head.
"Then let me continue to help him. Is he healed…physically?"
"Mostly. We discovered his shoulders were badly damaged and his larynx will need treatment, but by and large, yes he's healed."
"Good. He will need to be strong. I know from my contact with his thoughts that he's experienced great anguish in his past. His assimilation by the Borg, his mistreatment at the hands of Gul Madred…he is a very resilient Human."
"Yes he is, I only wish he didn't have to be."
"I don't think I'm breaking any confidences in telling you that he loves you."
Beverly smiled wistfully and closed her eyes.
"I know. He's loved me for a very long time."
"And I also know you love him…in equal measure."
She nodded, her eyes still closed.
"Then do something about it dear Doctor! The strength of love you share should not be denied."
Her eyes opened and he could see the resolve in their blue depths.
"Oh, I intend to Acryops…believe me when he's recovered…"
The telepath held up his hand, a smile on his face.
"Say no more Doctor, I can hear you loud and clear."
Beverly spent some time checking his monitors and ordering more tests for the Dellarite. Eventually she was back at his side.
"Acryops…about his memories…how will you do it?"
"With his permission, I will re-enter his mind and find the thoughts. They're buried deeply within his subconscious, his way of bearing what happened to him."
"What did he do?"
"I'm not certain, being unfamiliar with Humans, but I'd guess that he closed his mind down at the height of the assault. It's a technique we learn to protect ourselves…it's what I did. I suspect that Bleck was unaware that either of us could do it."
"The Human brain isn't really supposed to be able to do that. Under extreme duress unconsciousness can be achieved and a certain amount of disassociation can occur, but a shutdown such as you describe…well it's unusual to say the least. He has had mind melds with Vulcans, perhaps that aided him."
"Yes I detected the thoughts of others in his mind. I didn't identify them as Vulcan though. What an interesting man. At a cursory level he's calm and cool, almost glacial in his thoughts. When he's provoked his anger is towering yet still completely controlled. No wonder he was able to withstand so much of Bleck's torture. He would be the most interesting Human I've ever met."
"He's many things Acryops, probably the most complex man I know."
"Well he's going to need all his strength Doctor."
Beverly nodded and, as she turned to leave, looked back over her shoulder.
"He's also got us, don't forget that."
The telepath smiled and settled back in his bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly was indeed by his side when he woke up. Jean-Luc stretched and sighed. Beverly took his hand and squeezed it gently.
"Now…first things first. No talking. I'm doing some work on your larynx and I don't want all my good efforts put to waste. Second I want you to eat something…nothing heavy, a light salad perhaps and some Earl Grey? Then, and only then, can we 'talk'."
Jean-Luc sighed again and grinned at his best friend. Nodding, he was pleased when Beverly raised the head of his bed, allowing him to see better around his room.
She straightened the covers on his bed then left him, soon returning with a tray, which she placed across his thighs.
"Ok, here's your meal. Eat it all."
He attempted to throw a mock salute but grimaced as he raised his arm.
"Steady Jean-Luc. You damaged the muscles and ligaments of your shoulders. We'll be applying regen treatments, but it'll be a while before they're comfortable."
He raised his eyebrows in a classic 'how?' gesture.
Not knowing quite what to say, Beverly offered…
"I think you must've fallen."
He seemed satisfied with that and looked down at his meal. Picking up his fork, he pushed the food around, not really attempting to eat it. Beverly noticed and took the utensil from him.
"If you don't hurry up and eat, I'll hand feed you!"
He gave a 'you wouldn't dare' look and Beverly snorted.
"Just try me."
He looked hard at her and decided she was serious. He gestured for the fork and, having once again secured it, began to eat his food. Mollified, Beverly drew up a chair and sat beside him.
She waited until he had finished the food and was sipping his tea until she mentioned how long he would have to stay.
"You'll be here about a week, all being well."
His eyebrows rose then he scowled.
"Yes, I know…you want to be discharged to your quarters, but that's not possible yet. Be patient Jean-Luc. Rest assured I won't keep you here a moment longer than necessary. I promise."
He tenderly took her hand and pulled her towards him. When she was close enough, he kissed her gently then whispered…
"Why am I here? What happened to me?"
Beverly straightened and softly stroked his face.
"I can't answer that Jean-Luc. When you're a bit stronger, Acryops will come and see you. He will be able to answer all your questions."
He frowned and shook his head, but Beverly forestalled him.
"No Jean-Luc don't. You trust me don't you?"
He nodded.
"Then trust me now. Acryops will be able to help you far more than I can at this point. Just be patient a little longer, ok?"
His expression was one of puzzlement, but he took her at her word. Nodding he raised his arms very slowly and she sank into them, tears in her eyes.

 

 

 

 

The next few days were routine for Jean-Luc. His regen treatments continued and his body responded well. He was allowed out of bed on the third day and enjoyed sitting in the observation room, watching the passing stars. Beverly hedged whenever he asked how he came to be injured; Acryops was waiting until the Captain was strong enough. That time came when he started to nag about being released from Sickbay.
Jean-Luc was seated beside his bed reading when Acryops and Beverly came in to see him. He closed the book and smiled at his visitors, but soon felt their sombre mood.
His voice recovering well, he said softly…
"What is it?"
Beverly sat on his bed and gathered her thoughts.
"Jean-Luc you have been asking me how it is you were injured. I have brought Acryops here to help you to remember what happened."
Jean-Luc frowned and shook his head.
"I don't recall being injured at all. The last thing I remember is beaming down to the planet with Acryops. That fall you mentioned must have damaged my head. Perhaps I hit it…?"
"No Jean-Luc you didn't hit your head, in fact there was no fall. I told you that to allay your concerns. What happened is far more sinister."
"What then? What happened to me?"
The Dellarite moved to stand behind the Captain and placed his hands around Jean-Luc's head.
"Captain Picard I am going to use a technique used to retrieve hidden memories. You may experience some pain, but please, try to relax and cooperate with me. It will be difficult if you resist."
Uneasy, Jean-Luc looked up at Beverly to find her smiling at him.
"It's alright Jean-Luc, I'll be here."
He swallowed and took a big breath then relaxed his body.
Acryops leaned forward until his brow touched Jean-Luc's head and began to softly chant. Jean-Luc found the mantra lulling and soon found his mind drifting. As Acryop's hands tightened on his head, he suddenly felt the presence of another in his mind. He rebelled instantly, his body tensing and his mental shields coming up. Deep in his mind he heard a voice.
"No Captain you must relax. I will not hurt you…let me in."
Jean-Luc tried to shake his head but the Dellarite's grip was too tight.
"No! Get out!"
"Captain I must do this. You have buried memories that will eventually harm you. Permit me entry to your mind."
"I won't…I can't!"
Pain bloomed in his head and he groaned deeply.
Still with his eyes tightly closed and his head connected to Jean-Luc, Acryops called to Beverly.
"Sedate him!"
Jean-Luc never heard the hiss of the hypospray but his body slumped in the chair. Taking advantage, Acryops renewed his efforts.
"Captain Picard relax…it's not hard, just let me in."
"No…I… wait, stop…please I don't want…"
As his barriers fell he sensed the complete infiltration of Acryop's power. He was everywhere; in everything…there was no more Jean-Luc.
"That's it Captain just rest now and let me help you. I give you my word, I will not harm you."
"Yes."
"Good. Now you remember beaming down to the planet with me?"
"Yes."
"What happened then?"
"I don't know."
The presence intensified and pain skittered around his mind.
"Yes you do Captain…what happened?"
"I…I met with Udrom…he took us to…quarters."
"Yes, that's right. We had a room each and some time on our hands. What did you do?"
Jean-Luc frowned and began to sweat slightly.
"I…laid out my things…and I…I rested."
"Good, very good. Did you rest long?"
"No…the door bell rang."
"Who was it?"
"NO! I mustn't tell!"
"It's alright Captain you can tell me…nothing will happen, I promise."
"I…no you will hurt her. I must stop you."
"Not me Captain…another man. I am here to help you. Tell me, who was it?"
"It was…it was Nerella."
"She was from the alliance?"
"Yes…how do you know?"
"Tell me what happened."
"She told me of their struggle and asked me to abandon the talks. She left and I didn't know what to do."
"I see. What did you decide to do?"
"I went to see you. You were injured! There was blood and I…someone else was there. They had a weapon and I was injected with a drug."
"Yes, sleep took you. Where were you when you woke up?"
Jean-Luc stiffened and Beverly noted an increased heart and respiratory rate.
"There was pain…oh God there was pain everywhere. I'm tied to a pole…I can't stand up. My head aches badly…I'm sick."
"Is there anyone else there?"
"No…yes! He douses me with water and hits me. He asks me who came to see me. I think of a wall."
"That was very brave Captain."
"I have to protect her."
"Then what?"
"He puts something on my head and it gives me shocks…terrible pain. The wall begins to crumble but I rebuild it. He's angry. He attaches another device on my spine. The pain is excruciating and I pass out. Can we stop now?"
"No Captain…Jean-Luc…there is more, isn't there?"
"Yes."
"Tell me."
"When I wake up I imagine the wall. It infuriates him and he puts another device on my testicles. I can't stand the pain…it's too much. I'm sick again and he cuts me loose and puts me in a chair. There are more people there; they hit me…they don't stop until I'm almost unconscious. He shocks me again and the wall falls. I think of Beverly. He is curious. They beat me again and I feel my bones break."
"You still fought him?"
"Yes…I had to."
"What did he do Jean-Luc?"
"The beating stopped and he gripped my head. He pushed himself into my mind and I couldn't stop him. The pain was overwhelming and I saw a bright light, then everything was calm and he was gone."
"Is there anything else?"
"No. My next memory is you…in my mind…then Sickbay and Beverly."
"The man who assaulted you is called Bleck and he, along with the two who beat you, are confined to your brig. When you wake up you will feel violated and distressed. It is very important for you to remember that it is over; that you are safe and recovering aboard you ship and that the woman you love is with you. Is there anything else?"
"No…will you leave now?"
"Yes Jean-Luc I will leave, but you will remember."
Acryops slowly withdrew from Jean-Luc's mind and a calm descended, the lingering pain banished. He slipped into a deep sleep, untroubled by dreams.

 

 

 

 

Beverly had two orderlies place Jean-Luc in his bed and, once she was certain he was resting peacefully, left to join Acryops in her office.
"How did it go?"
"It went well. As I suspected he is a man of great fortitude. He withstood his assault with courage and determination…a lesser man would have succumbed."
"What is his prognosis? Does he remember what they did to him?"
"Yes, sadly he recalls it all. He will be traumatised and will require professional help. I take it you have appropriate staff…?"
"Of course. The trouble with Jean-Luc is getting him to talk about it. He tries so hard to keep things to himself, he tends to withdraw."
"Well Doctor I don't need to tell you how important therapy will be for him. Who will do it?"
"Counsellor Troi. She's helped him in the past…he trusts her."
"Good. I will go to my quarters now Doctor, I'm somewhat fatigued."
"As you wish Acryops. I…I want to thank you for what you've done."
"Not at all Doctor, I'm glad I could help."

 

 

It was late in the night when he woke. At first he lay quietly, calmly listening to the quiet sounds of Sickbay, until he began to feel uneasy. There was something bothering him, it was on the periphery of his mind but when he tried to focus on it, it slithered away. He sighed and turned over and, as he made himself comfortable, the realisation came crashing in on him. He sat bolt upright and shouted…
"NO! NOOOOO!"
Beverly came at the run. She burst into his room and ordered the lights half up. He was holding his head, sobbing in despair. She attempted to embrace him but he shrugged out of her arms. He fled the bed and raced into the bathroom, disappearing into the toilet. When Beverly reached him, he was kneeling at the bowl retching piteously. She retrieved a wet towel and eased him back, wiping his sweating face and dabbing at his tears.
He lowered his head onto her shoulder and gasped, his breath hiccupping.
"It's over Jean-Luc, you're safe now, and they can't hurt you any more."
His arms embraced her as he strove for control. After a while she heard his deep voice.
"Why Beverly? Why did it happen again?… Why me? Why do these things continue to happen to me?"
Beverly began to rock him gently and stroke his trembling back.
"I don't know Jean-Luc…it's so unfair."

 

 

 

 

Almost an hour later, Beverly, Deanna and Jean-Luc were in his room, talking quietly.
"Counsellor…Deanna with all due respect…I don't want to talk about it right now. Later perhaps…"
"No captain now is the most important time. Do you have a complete memory of what happened to you?"
He nodded, not trusting his voice.
"Tell me."
He glanced at Beverly and caught her nod. Facing Deanna, he took a large breath and, haltingly at first, then with more confidence, told her of his experiences at the hands of Bleck and his cronies.
When he finished, he lay back on the pillows and let the tears roll unhindered down his face. There was silence in the room as the two women digested the horrors he had spoken of.
Beverly, wiping at tears of her own, sat on the bed and took him into her arms. He embraced her tightly, drawing strength from her.
Deanna waited until he found himself and gently cleared her throat. When she had his attention she assessed his mood.
Though obviously upset, the seeds of his recovery were already taking hold. He was angry and felt the dreadful helplessness of violation, yet he still exuded the determination to face what had happened. She had an idea.
"Captain are you aware that Bleck is in the brig?"
"Yes."
"Would you like to see him?"
Shock was the first emotion she felt from him, followed by the more base need for revenge.
"Can I take a phaser?"
"No Sir, I don't think that would be advisable."
"Perhaps not but it would make me feel a whole lot better to vaporise him."
Deanna's laughter eased the tension.
"I'm sure Sir, however I have something a little more therapeutic in mind."
"You want me to face my demons…is that it?"
"In a way. I was present at his interrogation. I believe he feels genuine remorse for what he did to you Sir. It might help for you to hear that for yourself."
"And when did you envisage this taking place?"
"What about in the morning, after breakfast?"
"Well Counsellor as always I will be guided by your expertise, though I'm not completely sure I agree with you. I will however, accede to your wishes."
Deanna stood over her commanding officer and smiled down at him.
"Thank you Captain. I'll see you in the morning."
The doors sighed open and she left. Beverly looked carefully at Jean-Luc and ran her fingers gently down his face.
"How do you feel? Do you think you can sleep?"
He pursed his lower lip and shook his head.
"No, but that doesn't mean you should loose any sleep. Go back to your quarters Beverly, I'll be fine."
It was Beverly's turn to shake her head.
"Nup, I think I'll stay here, if you don't mind and seeing as how were both so wide awake, how about a game of Backgammon?"
They were still playing when the day shift came on duty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc felt the first stirrings of trepidation as they neared the holding cells. They stopped out of the range of the door sensors and he ran his hands over his thighs nervously. Deanna clasped a hand on his arm and said softly,
"It's alright Captain, he can't hurt you."
Jean-Luc looked down at the Counsellor and mustered a wan smile. Although not feeling particularly brave, he garnered his courage and stepped forward, activating the doors.
Bleck was lying on his bunk and came to his feet when he heard the door. Jean-Luc walked to within a few centimetres of the force field and stared at his tormentor.
Bleck stared back, his cold pink eyes appraising the Captain. Bleck stepped back and folded his arms.
"You look different."
Jean-Luc said nothing, just continued to stare.
"You are attempting to shield your thoughts. Why?"
"The reading of another's thoughts is considered among Humans to be an invasion of privacy."
"I can't help my natural abilities. It's how I communicate."
"I disagree. You 'communicate' by torturing those who are helpless."
Bleck dropped his arms and lifted his chin.
"I was doing my superior's bidding! Surely you of all people understand the chain of command?"
"I understand you drugged me, attached devices to my body with the sole purpose of inflicting pain, beat me and when all that failed to get you what you wanted, you violated my mind in an invasive procedure that left me brain damaged. If that is the result of your 'chain of command' then I don't understand it at all."
"Why did you resist? It would have been so much easier if you had just told me what I wanted to know."
"And let others become your prey? I don't think so. Let me ask you…why the intrascanning? You must have known it would damage me."
Bleck turned and sat on his bunk, pulling one foot up.
"To be honest Captain I didn't know. I'd never had a Human subject before. I didn't want to do it but I was under orders. We were running out of time and my superiors felt it was the only way we were going to get the information we sought. For what it's worth, I'm sorry I did that to you."
"But not sorry for torturing me?"
"I was doing my job."
"You disgust me."
"That's not all Captain. Given the chance…you would do me harm. Are we so different?"
Jean-Luc turned on his heel and left, the two women following him. He marched out into the corridor and didn't stop until he reached his quarters. Pausing briefly to watch the women enter, he scowled and went to the replicator to order himself an Earl Grey.
"Must you stay? I would appreciate some privacy!"
"Captain what are you feeling right now?"
Jean-Luc brusquely placed the cup on the desk and began to pace around the room.
"What do I feel? I feel angry…livid. That bastard is right. I would tear him limb from limb if I had the opportunity. Maybe he's got it right. Perhaps we are alike."
"Captain he tried the same thing with Will. It's perfectly natural to be angry after what you've been through, but I honestly don't believe you would harm him. Feelings of revenge are normal. That will give way to calmer emotions when you've had a chance to process what has happened to you. Captain people like Bleck are trained to bring out emotions in their captives. Having the ability to read thoughts gives him an advantage you can't defend against, at least not under normal circumstances. Allow yourself your feelings but don't dwell on them, they will not overpower you."
Jean-Luc stopped his pacing and sighed expansively. Lowering his head, he let his shoulders drop and did his best to ease the tension in his body.
"Thank you Counsellor. I will keep that in mind."
Deanna stood and made for the door. At the threshold she turned.
"I'll see you this afternoon Sir."
He nodded and she left. Beverly took his arm and guided him to the sofa. When they were both seated, she wriggled in behind him and started to massage his shoulders.
"Hmm that's good."
"Shh no talking, just relax."
He allowed his head to nod forward, his hands resting between his knees. Beverly coaxed his muscles into relaxing, the most reluctant needing her thumbs to win the battle. As his tension eased, her massage took on a more sensual action, the kneading becoming caresses. She moved to one side and cupped his chin with her hand. What she found took her breath away.
He looked at her with undisguised love. Not shielding it, not glancing away, just a quiet contemplation of her with tear filled hazel eyes. She leaned slowly forward and brushed her lips over his. He closed his eyes and sighed. She kissed him again, lingering on his lips until he started to respond. Gently, he slid his lips over hers sensuously, his hands creeping up to tangle in her vibrant red hair. It was her turn to sigh.
Her eyes drifted closed and he quested with his tongue, requesting admittance. She opened to him slowly, tenderly meeting his tongue with hers. The kiss deepened and she felt her desire rising. Starting as a heat low in her groin, it rose and bloomed over her body making her moan softly into his mouth.
He gently pulled back and held her face in his hands. In a deep whisper he said,
"I love you Beverly Crusher, I have loved you nearly half of my life."
Her tears welled and slipped down her cheeks. He took the tears in his fingers and smiled tenderly.
"No my love, don't cry. Now is not the time for sadness."
She sighed and kissed the tip of his nose.
"I'm not sad my beloved, in fact I'm happy. It's just that I've wasted so much time. I should have told you…"
"Shh. You've told me now, at least I think you have…"
Beverly chuckled softly.
"Oh Jean-Luc…for the record, I love you, with every fibre of my being, and I too have loved you for a very long time."
His lips descended on hers again and he kissed her with all the love he could feel. When his hand gently cupped her breast she didn't resist, in fact she moaned again. Emboldened, he kneaded the breast and when the nipple rose, he tweaked it and laid her back on the sofa.
When they were both lying with each other, Beverly snaked one hand between them and ran her fingers up the inside of his thigh. He sighed but when she gently caressed him through his trousers, he suddenly broke the kiss and sat up.
"Jean-Luc?"
He looked down at himself and frowned deeply.
"Something's wrong."
"What is it?"
"I'm not…that is I haven't got an…I don't understand this. I've waited, I've fantasised about this for so long…and I can't get an erection?"
He was becoming angry and Beverly strove to allay his pique.
"Jean-Luc, it's alright…"
"Alright? I don't think so Beverly…"
"No you don't understand. You know those devices Bleck placed on your body? Well they caused some nerve damage. All those regen treatments you've been having restored the damage in your legs. It went so well; we thought you didn't need to know just yet. I was hoping that the nerves to your genitals would have been repaired also."
"You were hoping? When were you going to tell me? How long have you known?"
"We've known since you were first brought aboard and…"
"We?"
"Doctor Selar and I."
"How did you find out?"
Beverly reddened slightly and moved to take his hand.
"Really Jean-Luc that's…"
"How?"
"I put a stimulator on you penis and it failed to achieve an erection."
"And you knew all this time…and Selar knows."
Beverly nodded, not knowing quite what to say.
"I think you'd better leave."
"Jean-Luc…"
"Now Beverly, I want to be alone."
Beverly rose and had one more go at reaching him.
"Please Jean-Luc, let me explain…"
He shook his head brusquely and stepped to the door, his head lowered.
As Beverly passed him she paused, but he didn't acknowledge her. As the doors sighed closed she found herself out in the corridor.
"Damn!"
Her next move was to enquire of the computer as to the whereabouts of Deanna Troi.

 

 

 

 

 

That afternoon the Captain did not show up for his appointment. Deanna wasn't surprised.
"Computer, location of Captain Picard?"
"Captain Picard is in his quarters."
Armed with this information, Deanna left her office.
Jean-Luc was standing at the viewports of his living area when the door annunciator went off.
"Computer, who is at my door?"
"Counsellor Deanna Troi."
His face hardened and his hands made fists at his sides. Raising his voice slightly he called out,
"I don't wish to have visitors thank you Counsellor."
Deanna closed her eyes and sighed. She lifted her head and addressed her superior.
"I know that Captain, but I think you would be better served by letting me in."
"I don't think so."
"Captain I will use my override if I have to. Please let me in."
There was silence for a while, followed by a barked,
"Come!"
Still off duty, he stood stiffly in civilian clothes, his anger radiating from him.
"Captain…"
"Counsellor I am aware that, by now, you will have talked with Doctor Crusher. I don't want to discuss it, I don't want to analyse it and I don't want to see you! Your presence here is unnecessary and I would appreciate it if you would leave…now."
"Captain I understand your reluctance to…"
"Counsellor!"
"No Captain hear me out. After everything else that's happened to you recently, you find that, after harbouring deep feelings for Beverly all these years, you can't consummate the relationship. It must be devastating for you and I do understand."
He sighed expansively and put his hands in his pockets. Turning his back on the Counsellor, he stared out at the stars. Deanna stepped quietly up to him and rubbed her hand over his shoulder.
"Come on Captain, sit down and I'll get you a cup of tea."
Eventually he turned his head and regarded the patient Counsellor. Knowing she wouldn't go away, he sighed and took a seat on the sofa.
Having retrieved the tea, she sat in the chair nearby and watched as he sipped the fragrant brew. Judging the moment carefully, she spoke softly.
"How do you feel right now?"
He looked up and glared, then relented and pursed his lips.
"Angry…betrayed…humiliated…worried…"
"Alright, let's deal with the anger first. What are you angry about?"
He was silent so long Deanna thought she would have to prompt him, but finally he sighed.
"I'm angry that it happened. On top of everything else…it's just too much. I'm angry that Beverly didn't tell me, it was not the ideal way to find out and I'm angry that I can't do anything about it. Yet again I have to shut up and bear the unbearable."
"You certainly don't have to 'shut up'…"
"Don't I? I have no say in my treatment! I just show up and do as I'm told. No one asks me if I mind, or if I can cope…I simply acquiesce."
"Alright I'll grant you that. What about betrayal?"
"She didn't tell me! She let me wander around the ship thinking everything was all right. I had no idea my legs had been damaged and I certainly didn't know that she'd tested my genital response in Sickbay…in front of Selar!"
"So you see that as a betrayal of trust?"
"Yes!"
"Captain did you know that Beverly was on the away team that recovered you from the planet?"
He looked up, his eyebrows rising.
"No."
"Well she was. When she got to you she could detect no synaptic activity in your brain. None Captain. As far as she was concerned, you were irretrievably brain damaged. She had you transported up to the ship and spent hours repairing your physical injuries. When she discovered the nerve damage, she asked her staff to leave, except for Selar, and tested your responses as best she could. Under the circumstances do you think she should have acted differently?"
Somewhat chagrined, he stared at his toes.
"No, I suppose not."
"She wanted you to be stronger, more balanced mentally before she gave you the full report on you injuries. Remember you'd just recovered devastating memories and confronting Bleck. I think she was trying to spare you more anguish. Of all the people on this ship, she would be the least likely to betray you."
He nodded and rubbed his face with his large hands.
"Ok, what about humiliation?"
"I see that my feelings of humiliation in regard to the test are unfounded but, as a man, it was embarrassing to discover my…inadequacy… as I did. I wanted nothing more in this universe than to…"
"I understand Captain, but surely you realise that, with treatment, this condition will pass? And if I know Beverly, the opportunity will present itself again."
He reddened somewhat and clasped his hands on his crossed knee.
"Well that takes care of 'worry'. I trust Beverly will remedy the situation…it is, after all, in her best interests."
Deanna laughed, glad that the Captain could find some humour in his embarrassment.
"So tell me Captain, present difficulties aside, how do you feel about Bleck now?"
Jean-Luc sat back and put one arm along the back of the sofa.
"I don't understand people like him. He's like Madred…completely unconcerned about what they're doing to their victims. He only expressed remorse over what he did to me mentally because he was unfamiliar with Humans. It was almost an afterthought."
"Captain you have to remember these people are a direct result of the circumstances in which they live. They know no different. Madred and Bleck have been cultivated to perform for their masters. I'm not apologising for them, but we have to accept that people like them exist. All we can do is try and destroy them when we find them."
"And not get caught by them."
That brought a small smile.
"Yes Sir."
"You know at first, when he was trying to get the information, I thought of a wall. Every time I felt it crumbling, I rebuilt it. But when things got really bad, all I could think of was Beverly. She was my last coherent thought. She saved me Deanna."
Deanna got up and seated herself next to him. Taking his hand, she looked into his eyes.
"Talk to her Captain, she's very worried about you."
He smiled and nodded.
"I will."
"Alright, I'll leave you now. If you have trouble sleeping ask for help and if you have any nightmares…"
"I'll call Beverly."
"I was going to say me, but Beverly will do. Good afternoon Captain."
He bade her farewell and sat back. Sighing, he knew he had some bridges to mend.

 

 

 

Beverly was studying her computer terminal when she became aware she was being watched. Looking up, she was delighted to see the identity of her voyeur.
"Hello Jean-Luc."
He stepped into her office and produced, from behind his back, a single long stemmed red rose. He smiled at her gently and said softly,
"I'm sorry Beverly. Can we start again?"
She accepted the rose and twirled it under her nose, taking in the delicious scent.
Making sure none of her staff were in earshot, she giggled and waved her hand.
"Sit down my love, we have to talk."
He sat and, as was his custom, crossed his legs elegantly.
"Ok. First up I'm sorry I wasn't more forthcoming with you. You had every right to know…"
He held up his hand and shook his head.
"No Beverly, it's alright. I understand."
She smiled at him and continued.
"I appreciate your forgiveness Jean-Luc, but I am sorry. It won't happen again. Now, would you like to know the full extent of your injuries?"
He nodded and she began.
"We'll start with your bones. You had numerous breaks to the bones of your hands. Your shoulders were severely damaged, as you already know, and you had displaced fractures in both tibias. Both patellas were dislocated. There were several breaks to the bones in you feet as well. Your nose was broken, three teeth dislodged and there was a hairline fracture of the right eye socket. You had three broken ribs on the right, two on the left and your right clavicle was shattered. Your internal injuries were just as extensive. Damaged kidneys, bruised liver and stomach, contused lung, torn pancreas and ruptured larynx. Then there was the nerve damage. The device in you head was directly connected to your brain. There was some residual swelling around the meninges but we were able to treat that. The damage to your spine was successfully remedied by the regen treatments and all that remains is the damage to your genitals. I would expect that, with appropriate treatment, that too will be healed."
"And what constitutes 'appropriate treatment'?"
"Hopefully just extensive regen therapy."
"Hopefully?"
Beverly leaned forward and reached for his hand. He uncrossed his legs and gave her his hand as she smiled lopsidedly.
"If the regen treatments don't work, we'll have to try electro stimulation."
"I see. I'm not going to like that am I?"
"No Jean-Luc you're not, but let's not cross that particular bridge 'til we get to it eh? I'm sure the regen therapy will work just fine."
"So when do we start?"
"Right now!"
He frowned and reddened slightly.
"Ah Beverly…how private can we keep this?"
"Very private…we're going to do it in your quarters."
He sighed with relief and followed Beverly out into Sickbay proper. Beverly turned to him and smiled.
"You go to your cabin. I'll get what I need here and meet you in about ten minutes. Ok?"
He nodded and left, feeling much better.

 

 

 

 

When his door chime sounded he bade her entry with a smile on his face. She was carrying some equipment so he stepped forward to help her.
"Take it into your bedroom Jean-Luc. We'll set it up there."
They moved into the bedroom, placing the equipment on the bed.
"Go and strip down to your briefs while I get things ready here."
He soon returned to find the apparatus set up on his bed.
"Ok lie down with your legs apart. Good. Now put your head on the pillows and relax, this won't hurt."
She aligned the regenerator between his legs, angled the head, aimed it at his groin and turned it on. It hummed gently and bathed the room in a pleasant blue glow.
"How's that?"
"It's warm…rather pleasant."
"I'm using quite a strong field. With luck, if we do this three times a day for four days, we should get the desired result."
"Are you making fun of me?"
Beverly laughed and lay down beside him.
"No my love, no pun intended. I want you better…and soon!"
"I too wish to be…what is it Data says?…fully functional."
Beverly chuckled before kissing him tenderly. He tried to deepen the kiss but she pulled back, placing her hand on his chest.
"Oh no you don't! You behave yourself or I'll Have Selar do these treatments."
He harrumphed but settled back on the pillows with a rare full grin gracing his handsome features. Beverly was delighted.

 

 

 

 

As promised, he had the regen treatments over the next four days, but Beverly was disappointed after her enquiries.
"So this morning…when you woke up…you didn't have a…?"
He frowned and shook his head.
"No. And I haven't since I came back aboard."
"I see."
"What is it? Have the treatments failed?"
"I'm not sure. Jean-Luc I'm going to put a stimulator band on your…well, you know."
He reddened somewhat, but nodded. Fortunately still in the privacy of his quarters, Beverly retrieved the device and instructed him how to attach it and where. When he was ready, she remotely activated it, waited a few moments then asked,
"How is it? Is it having any effect?"
His terse "No." spoke volumes.
"We'll try a higher setting."
A few more moments passed before she enquired,
"Anything?"
"There's a slight reaction, but not what I'd call an erection."
Beverly shut off her control and sighed. Allowing Jean-Luc the privacy to divest himself of the device, she waited for him in the living area. He entered tying his robe.
"So Beverly…what now?"
"I'm afraid we need to take a more aggressive approach."
"And that is?"
"Electro stimulation of the nerves."
"What will that entail?"
"Well it will have to be done in Sickbay…I'm sorry Jean-Luc…but I'll ensure your privacy. It involves feeding hair-thin wires directly into the main nerve trunks and stimulating them with low current. It will be…uncomfortable for you, but we can offer pain relief."
"I see. Will it work?"
Beverly came to him and led him to the sofa. Having seated them both, she took his hand.
"Provided the nerves haven't been irreparably damaged. If that proves to be the case, I'll clone you some new nerves. Either way we will repair this Jean-Luc, it just may take a little time."
He nodded thoughtfully and looked down at their joined hands.
"When…?"
"This afternoon, after you've seen Deanna. There are a few things I need to set up, one thing though…I will need Selar's help Jean-Luc. It's simply not something I can do alone."
He grimaced and frowned, closing his eyes. Beverly released his hand and tenderly ran her fingers down the side of his face.
"Jean-Luc?"
Without opening his eyes, he raised his arms and enfolded her into his embrace. She buried her head in his neck and wound her arms around his chest. He breathed in deeply, infusing his senses with her scent. His kisses to her hair caused her to lift her head. He opened his eyes and they stared at each other, the love and desire clearly evident. He leaned forward and kissed her gently and she fell into his kiss headlong. It started breathily but soon deepened into an expression of unbridled passion. His tongue entered her mouth and duelled with hers sensuously. The blush of arousal soon coloured her alabaster skin as her heart skipped in her chest. When he cupped her breast, she moaned wantonly into his mouth. His free hand went to the closure at the back of her uniform and the fastener slid open. He gently pulled the material down her shoulders and she freed her arms so he could slide the sleeves off her. Now his hands could caress her through the lace of her bra. Her nipples stood erect, pushing against the fabric as his fingers found then gently pinched them. She arched her back and held his head as he kissed her. He slowly eased her back onto the sofa and she swung her legs up. He lay beside her, his hand kneading her breasts. Breaking the kiss, he mouthed along her jaw, her skin burning wherever he touched. Down her neck, he plundered her skin as his hands relieved her of her bra. The garment fell unnoticed to the floor as the skin of his hands skimmed over the heated flash of her breasts. With his palms, he circled the straining nipples as his mouth moved closer. Taking the breasts in his hands, his mouth descended on first one, then the other swollen nub.
Beverly's breath hissed through her teeth as he grazed her nipples with his tongue. He sucked her further into the heat of his mouth and nipped at her gently, before again suckling strongly. She moaned and arched up to him as his hand drifted down her belly to push the uniform down her lithe body. She helped him by lifting her hips, then her legs one at a time, until the uniform was gathered at her feet.
Jean-Luc's mouth left her then and he stood. He moved to her feet, doffed her socks and shoes, then pulled the uniform from her legs. He removed his robe and briefs and gently draped himself over her, kissing her deeply.
Although unable to attain an erection, he still felt passion and desire for the woman he loved. He broke the kiss and lapped his way back to her breasts, teasing and arousing.
Beverly had no idea why he was doing this, but she revelled in his attentions. Her body was an instrument he was playing like a maestro. Every touch, every caress inflamed her, increasing her need. As he masterfully suckled her breasts, she held his head, pressing him to her, silently asking for more.
His hand slid down her flank to her thigh. Using feather-like touches, he encouraged her to part her legs and dallied in the copper curls covering her mons. Beverly moaned and lifted her hips, inviting him to touch her intimately for the first time.
He did not disappoint her. With one thick finger, he traced her outline, then gently slid the digit the length of her. Her body quivered. Again and again he slid his finger over her engorged clitoris and probed her entrance, coating his hand in her dew. His mouth released her breast and his head slipped free of her grasp. Kissing his way down the flat plain of her stomach, he drank in her aroma, her unique scent.
Kneeling between her legs, he watched as he slowly inserted his finger into her heat, feeling her contract around him, letting his imagination furnish how it would feel around his penis.
With his free hand he opened her labia and saw her throbbing pearl. He leaned forward slowly and, very gently, feathered his tongue over it.
Beverly writhed and gasped, sensuously bearing down on his pistoning finger. He introduced a second finger and began to curl the fingers internally as he thrust them. Increasing the pressure of his tongue, she began to jerk rhythmically as he lapped at her.
"Oh God Jean-Luc…yes…yes…more, just a little more…"
He smiled and he allowed his mouth to fully engulf her. His tongue swirled over her clitoris as his fingers slothfully pushed in and out of her. Her hips rose and fell in time with him and she began to moan continuously. She released a sudden flow of lubricant and her body started to flex.
Jean-Luc suddenly sucked the clitoris into his mouth and grazed it with his teeth and his fingers quickly plunged into her.
Her body bowed up from the sofa as the climax surged through her. She shrieked his name as her hands clenched the cushions under her head, but he wasn't finished. Maintaining the suction on the turgid pearl, he feathered his tongue over it firmly while his fingers continued to plunge in and out of her.
A second, then abruptly a third orgasm manifested before he slowly reduced his ministrations and allowed her to recover.
As she lay panting and moaning his name, he slid his fingers free and kissed her labia tenderly. He stretched out beside her and waited patiently for her to regain her senses.
Her eyes eventually opened and she sighed expansively. She turned onto her side and cuddled into his embrace, kissing him languidly.
Jean-Luc allowed his hand to trail along her side and back, idly drawing random patterns on her heated skin.
Blissfully, Beverly raised her head and looked at her lover.
"Oh God Jean-Luc…I needed that, thank you my love."
"My pleasure."
"Did it help?"
"Not physically, but mentally it was something I've thought about doing for years."
Beverly chuckled and kissed him again.
"I think we better get you fixed up as soon as possible…I've some fantasies of my own."
"Have you now? Care to enlighten me?"
Beverly blushed and wrinkled her nose.
"No…but I will show you…soon I hope."
"In that case…I can't wait."
He kissed her once, then again before drawing back and looking deeply into her eyes.
"I love you Beverly."
"And I you."

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc entered Deanna's off ice a much happier man. Although mightily frustrated at his inability to have penetrative sex with Beverly, he was nonetheless overjoyed at being able to bring her pleasure. His confession about his long held fantasy had liberated him and his body still resounded with Beverly's passion.
Deanna sensed his mood immediately.
"Captain, come in. Would you like some tea?"
"Thank you Counsellor, that would be delightful."
Once they were seated with their drinks, Deanna centred herself.
"Captain I sense your happiness. Is it anything you want to talk about?"
"Not really. Let's just say it's of a…personal nature."
"I see. Well I'm glad you're feeling better. Tell me, how are you sleeping? Any nightmares?"
"I'm not sleeping all that well and yes, there's been nightmares."
"The torture? Bleck?"
"Yes. I'm back in the room and he's holding the control to the transponders. I'm begging him to stop, but he just laughs and presses the buttons. Sometimes…sometimes it's not me who feels the pain though."
"Oh? Who does then?"
Lowering his head, he whispers…
"Beverly."
"I see. Captain do you remember telling me that the last coherent thought you had was of Beverly? That she saved you?"
"Yes."
"Well I think your subconscious is allowing her to save you again by taking the pain for you. It's not an uncommon manifestation in cases such as yours. I wouldn't dwell on it.
What do you do when you're woken by a nightmare?"
"That depends. If it's a bad one I call Beverly and we sit and talk…or read…just having her there is enough to dispel the fear."
"But you don't go back to bed?"
"No, sleep is no longer possible."
"I would like you to consider a technique you've used in the past…directed dreaming. You need your sleep Captain. It may help."
He nodded and smiled.
"Have you given any more thought to Bleck? How do you feel about him now?"
Jean-Luc sighed and shook his head.
"I still don't understand him…I don't think I ever will. How can a being inflict such pain on another and feel nothing? I understand what he did and why he did it…but still…it saddens me that such creatures exist."
"And your feeling of violence towards him?"
"Abating, although there are times…"
"Understandable Captain. Will says that the Federation will allow him and his cohorts to be tried for abduction and torture, but Udrom will escape prosecution. We can't apprehend him; we have no jurisdiction on the planet."
"I expected as much. I've submitted my report to Starfleet, now they know about the true situation on the planet, I doubt we'll be having any more contact with them."
"How do you feel about that?"
"Somewhat frustrated. I would've liked to sort the problems out diplomatically, at least give the alliance an equal voice, but like so much more about the Arellians, we'll just have to turn a blind eye."
"Captain Beverly has told me about the more…aggressive …therapy you have to undertake. I'm sorry."
"Yes…well that's something I'll have to overcome."
"Beverly said she was hopeful…"
"As am I Counsellor."
Sensing the Captain was withdrawing from the conversation, Deanna brought the session to a close.
"Very well Captain, we'll finish for today. I'd like to see you tomorrow afternoon."
Jean-Luc nodded and stood, pulling down on his shirt. He turned to leave, but hesitated at the door. He looked over his shoulder and smiled.
"Thank you Deanna."
The Counsellor smiled back and nodded.
"You're welcome Captain."

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc entered Sickbay somewhat reluctantly. He wasn't at all sure he wanted to do this…but what choice did he have? He trusted Beverly implicitly and if she said this was the treatment he needed, then so be it. Still…wires, electric shocks…he shuddered and his usually confident stride faltered. Before he could lose courage, nurse Ogawa came to meet him.
"Good afternoon Captain. Doctor Crusher is ready for you, if you'll come with me?"
She led him into a suite of rooms off to one side. Beverly looked up and smiled warmly at him and nodded to her nurse.
"Thank you Alyssa. Come in Jean-Luc."
He noted that Selar stood innocuously to one side, studying some monitors. Jean-Luc summoned a smile for Beverly and stood quietly, awaiting instructions.
"We'll leave you for a few minutes Captain. Please disrobe completely and lie on the bed. You may cover yourself with the blanket."
He nodded, his smile disappearing. Quickly shedding his clothes, he folded them in a neat pile and picked up the blanket. Lying back on the bed, he was just covering himself when Beverly returned. She paused at the door.
"Are you decent? Can I come in?"
"Yes."
Beverly and Selar came in and busied themselves with setting up their equipment. Beverly chose to update Jean-Luc.
"Now you know basically what we're going to do?"
"Yes. You're going to pass thin wires into the nerve trunk and stimulate the area with mild electric shocks."
"Uh huh. As I've already told you, it will be uncomfortable for you and there will be pain relief, but not until we have completed the therapy."
"Why? Why not before?"
"Because we need your input. We need you to tell us where you feel the impulses. If you have the analgesia too soon, you won't be able to help us."
He closed his eyes and nodded. He felt Beverly's hand grip his shoulder briefly and he opened his eyes to smile at her.
They were a few moments more calibrating the terminals before Beverly spoke again.
"Well we're ready. How about you…are you ready?"
Not completely trusting his voice, Jean-Luc nodded.
Beverly folded the blanket up his legs up to his waist. He felt the application of an antiseptic to four places in his groin, then Beverly pulled a monitor closer to her. From a surgical tray she picked up a thin wire and turned to him.
"Ok, I'm going to pass the first wire. You won't feel it pierce the skin, but you will feel a pressure and maybe a jolt when we puncture the nerve."
Jean-Luc felt Beverly lay her hand flat on his skin then felt nothing. He was about to ask if she'd started when he did indeed feel a pressure. It built to becoming uncomfortable when suddenly there was a quick twinge as the wire entered the nerve.
Beverly watched the monitor intently as she sited the wire and, when satisfied, looked up and smiled at the Captain.
"Ok? That's one…three to go."
He lay quietly as the subsequent wires were inserted and sited. As with the first, the sensations were uncomfortable, but not exactly painful.
"Good, they're all in place. Selar I want you to keep an eye on the enzyme output. I don't want it to exceed ten point two. Jean-Luc we're going to give you the first shock now…are you ok?"
"Yes."
Beverly gave his hand under the blanket a quick squeeze then returned her attention to her instruments.
"Right. Here we go."
Beverly flicked a switch and Jean-Luc cried out in pain. A terrible burning sensation ran down his genitals and settled as a sharp ache in his testicles.
"Where Jean-Luc? Where do you feel it most?"
Through gritted teeth, Jean-Luc gasped,
"My testicles."
Beverly stopped the power surge and watched the monitor as she resited the wires.
She reactivated the instrument and again the Captain couldn't contain the cry of pain that was wrenched from his throat. Gripping the bed with all his strength, his back bowed and his legs flexed.
"Where now?"
"My penis and testicles!"
"Good! Hold on Jean-Luc, just a little longer…Selar what's his heart rate?"
"It has risen eighteen percent and is still rising. Enzyme output is at seven point four."
A sob was torn from the stricken man as Beverly slightly raised the surge.
"Hold on Jean-Luc…hold on…there!"
She terminated the power and immediately took a moist cloth and wiped his sweating, tear stained face. As Beverly comforted the distressed Captain, Selar administered an analgesic and removed the wires. She lowered the blanket and left quietly.
Jean-Luc raised shaking hands and covered his face, crying silently. Beverly took him in her arms and held him tenderly.
"Shh Jean-Luc, it's over."
As the pain dissipated he slowly regained his composure and let his head rest back on the pillow. In a rough whisper he said,
"How did it go?"
"Good, Jean-Luc…it was a good result. The very fact that you felt so much pain shows that the nerves are still transmitting properly."
He sighed and closed his eyes.
"So that's it then?"
When she didn't answer his eyes opened and he was treated to the sight of his lover wiping tears from her lovely face.
She shook her head slowly.
"No my love. We will have to repeat it three, maybe four more times. I'm so sorry Jean-Luc…"
He closed his eyes again and shook his head, while reaching for her hand.
"It's not your fault. Will it get any easier?"
"No, I'm afraid not."
"Oh."
"Jean-Luc…"
"When…when will you…?"
"Over the next three or four days. We need to give the nerves time to regenerate."
"So…once a day then?"
"Uh huh."
"I see. Can I go back to my quarters now? I'd like to rest, if I may."
"Of course…do you want any help?"
"No, I'll be fine, thank you."
Beverly stood and looked down at him, feeling dreadful for having to put him through such pain on top of what he'd already suffered. She left him and waited outside. He soon appeared looking pale with dark smudges under his eyes.
"Come on, I'll walk you to your cabin."
She linked arms with him and they walked slowly through the corridors, neither one speaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such was his dread the following day he couldn't eat any breakfast. Already exhausted from a broken sleep he sighed as Beverly remonstrated with him.
"But Jean-Luc you barely had any dinner last night! If you don't eat breakfast your blood sugar levels will drop dangerously low and…"
He held up his hand, stopping her mid flight.
"Beverly…I promise I will have something to eat after…well I think you know."
Beverly huffed out a breath and considered arguing with him. Knowing what was in store for him tempered her angst however and she gave in.
"Well ok…but you promise? You will have something substantial after the therapy?"
He nodded a small smile appearing disarming her completely.
They left his quarters and strolled to Sickbay, his steps slowing as the approached.
Beverly squeezed his arm and whispered in his ear.
"It's ok Jean-Luc…it'll be over soon."
As he did the previous day, he entrusted himself to the only woman he'd ever truly loved and, as it was before, the therapy was excruciatingly painful. This time it was Beverly who gave him the painkiller and he lay sobbing while it suffused his body.
He clung to her desperately, willing himself to regain control.
"Oh God Beverly…I can't…I can't do that again…"
"Shh my love…it's alright…you'll be alright in a minute."
As the pain left him he sighed and relaxed, letting the tension leave his tortured body. Beverly gently stroked his face and wiped away his tears. When he looked up at her he felt his heart swell with love. He took her hand and kissed her fingers, making her chuckle.
"Feeling better?"
He sighed and nodded.
"Good. You get dressed now…you have a date with a plate of food."
He sighed again and rolled his eyes. In truth, he wasn't at all hungry…the last thing he wanted to do was eat.
"Beverly I will have something soon…just not quite yet, alright?"
"But Jean-Luc you promised…"
"And I will uphold that promise…later."
Knowing what he'd just been through, Beverly acquiesced.
"Oh all right, but you make sure you have something decent…not some snack!"
"Aye Sir!"
She laughed and slapped him on the arm.
"Well off you go then, I'll meet you after shift."
He returned to his quarters, rested for an hour then buried himself in work. He didn't eat lunch or anything else. When Beverly called at 1700 he was trapped as she requested he tell her what he'd eaten.
"What did I have? Well let's see…I had…umm…chicken salad with lemon sorbet afterwards…oh and a muffin with my tea this afternoon."
"You! Eat a muffin?"
"Well I thought it appropriate."
"Ok I buy that. Now what will we have for dinner?"
"Actually Beverly I thought I'd just have some soup and a bread roll and go to bed, I'm very tired."
She frowned, but didn't see through the deception.
"Ok, I'll see you in the morning then. Call me if you need anything."
"I will."
As the doors sighed closed Jean-Luc closed his eyes and shook his head.
"Forgive me Beverly…I'm just not hungry."
He did retire early, his empty stomach not troubling him in the least. When the nightmare woke him later he was sweating heavily and felt light headed. He rose shakily from his bed and staggered to the bathroom to wash his face, but his legs went from under him before he reached the door. He supported himself on all fours as he shook his head.
"Steady Johnny…"
He grasped the doorframe and regained his feet. Taking a deep breath he entered the bathroom and managed to wash his face. Sleep now banished, he went to his desk and activated the computer. Soon ensconced in ships business, he didn't notice the passage of time until his door chime sounded hours later. Taking only enough time to don a robe, he called to the visitor,
"Come."
Beverly breezed in and stopped dead in her tracks.
"Jean-Luc you look awful!"
"Good morning to you too Beverly."
She came to him and grasped his arm.
"You haven't shaved…and you're still in you pyjamas. How long have you been up?"
He extricated his arm and moved to the replicator.
"Oh just an hour or so. Croissants?"
"Jean-Luc…"
"You set the table and I'll go wash up. I won't be long."
He was gone before she could say anything further. When he returned he'd shaved and put on clean clothes, but he still looked dreadful.
He sat at the table and poured both of them a coffee while Beverly pulled a steaming pastry apart. He watched her carefully as she ate, waiting for the inevitable cross-examination. It soon came.
"You're not eating."
"I'm not hungry."
"Did you have a nightmare last night?"
He nodded.
"And you didn't call me?"
"It wasn't that bad."
"Did you get back to sleep?"
"No."
"What have you been doing?"
"Oh you know…a bit of reading…catching up on ship's business."
"Did you eat dinner last night…the soup and roll?"
"Yes."
"Will you have something to eat after your therapy?"
"Of course. I just don't have much of an appetite before hand…you understand."
She nodded thoughtfully and popped another morsel into her mouth, washing it down with coffee.
"Jean-Luc…will you let me give you a physical after your therapy?"
"Really Beverly…I don't think that's necessary. I'm usually very tired afterwards, I'd just like to come here and rest…if that's all right with you."
Knowing what was ahead of him, she sighed and shook her head.
"Well ok…but I'm concerned about you Jean-Luc, you look terrible."
"Nothing a decent sleep wouldn't fix. Now, shall we go? I'd like to get this over and done with."

 

 

 

 

Two hours later he was slowly dressing himself after the agonising therapy. Beverly had assured him that only one more treatment was required the following day, something for which he was immensely grateful. As he buttoned his shirt she came in and stood before him.
"What say we go to the lounge and have lunch?"
He smiled tiredly and shook his head.
"I'm afraid all I want to do is go and lie down for a while…I hope you don't mind."
"Just a minute…"
Beverly produced a tricorder and was just taking the probe from its casing when she was suddenly called by Alyssa Ogawa.
"Doctor Crusher we need you here, a crewman has come in from engineering with serious plasma burns."
Beverly looked hard at Jean-Luc, turned on her heel and left. He took the opportunity to make his escape and was soon back in his quarters. He rested for a while then went down to Engineering to find out what had caused the accident. He didn't eat.
That night Beverly was required to deliver twins and didn't finish in Sickbay until 0330. She asked the computer if the Captain was asleep and received a positive response. Happy, she went to her own quarters, showered and crawled into bed, sleep claiming her immediately.
Seventeen minutes after the computer checked on him, he woke screaming in terror.
The next morning she slept in and went straight to Sickbay. When the Captain came in at the appointed time she gasped when she saw him. Pale and gaunt, he almost shuffled into his room and listlessly listened to Beverly as she explained that they would test his responses after this treatment. He nodded and Beverly left him to undress.
When she came back in, he was lying with his eyes closed, but opened them when she squeezed his shoulder.
"Ok Jean-Luc…last one. Are you ready?"
He nodded and the trial began.
He didn't know how he got through it. As he lay writhing in agony, his mind began to close off. The hiss of the hypospray brought him out of his stupor and, as soon as he could, he sat up and rested his head on his raised knees.
Beverly wrapped an arm around his shoulders and rubbed her cheek against his face.
"You stay put. I want to scan you."
She turned to retrieve a tricorder, but he didn't seem to have heard her. He swung his legs off the bed and stood on trembling legs, reaching for his clothes. He noted with curiosity that everything seemed to be turning black and white. His legs folded under him and he crashed to the floor, hitting his head solidly on the table as he went.
"Jean-Luc!"
As she rushed to his aid she called for help.
"Selar! Alyssa! Come quickly!"
The two officers came into the room to find Beverly crouched down next to the Captain, stemming blood flowing from a head wound.
"Help me get him onto the bed."
They gently lifted the stricken man and Beverly scanned him with a tricorder.
"No fracture, just a nasty gash. Selar hand me an autosuture."
Beverly closed the wound with the instrument then consulted the tricorder again.
"Blood sugar has bottomed out…my God he hasn't eaten for days! What the hell…?"
Beverly, realising the Captain was naked, quickly covered him with a blanket. She then turned to her fellow Doctor.
"We'll need to feed him intravenously, at least for the interim. He's completely exhausted and his body has been depleted utterly of nutrients. When he regains consciousness I will apply neural inducers. I want his sleep to be dream free for a while…he needs rest. Alyssa help Doctor Selar set up the drip, I'll be back in a minute."
Beverly made her way to her office and called Deanna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Deanna arrived in Sickbay she found her friend in the Captain's room. She stood in the doorway, noting how pale and gaunt the Captain appeared. Beverly looked up and noticed the Counsellor.
"Come in Deanna."
"So you said he collapsed?"
"Yes. Scans show he's not eaten or slept properly for days. That combined with the therapy and everything else has proved too much for him. Dammit Deanna I should've seen this coming! I knew he wasn't eating, but he just pulled the wool completely over my eyes. And this treatment…it's been too soon, we should've waited. Gods when I think of what he's been through…"
"Beverly stop. You've treated him as you thought fit. I didn't see this coming either so you're not alone on your guilt trip. When will he wake up?"
"We can wake him any time we want, but I think we should leave him to sleep. It's what he needs right now."
" I agree. He's being fed intravenously?"
"Yes…he's so weak we needed to get nourishment into him immediately."
"How long?"
"Until he starts to eat on his own."
"Beverly I know he's been having nightmares…has he discussed them with you?"
"Not really. If he has a bad one he calls me, but we usually just chat or read…he wants company mostly. Why?"
"Because he hasn't discussed them with me either…at least not in any meaningful context."
Beverly looked down at her lover and sighed, gently running her fingers down his arm.
"Jean-Luc…what have you been doing to yourself?"
To Deanna she said,
"Well when he's able, we'll all sit down and talk about this. He's not going to sneak by me again."
Deanna smiled at her friend and held her hand out.
"Can I see his workups?"
"Yep. Come to my office and we'll have a cup of tea while you read them."
The two women left the Captain's room and had been seated in Beverly's office for some time when an ear splitting scream resounded throughout Sickbay. They ran into the main body of the department to find Selar running to the Captain's room. They followed her.
Jean-Luc was writhing on the bed, drenched in sweat and sobbing with terror.
"No! I won't! Stop…please, oh God please stop…"
Beverly gripped his shoulders and shook him.
"Jean-Luc! Wake up Jean-Luc it's a dream…just a dream."
He shook his head from side to side violently, his fists balling at his sides. Suddenly his eyes snapped open and he screamed,
"Noooo!" and struck out with his right fist catching Beverly on the cheek and knocking her off her feet. Deanna grabbed Jean-Luc as Selar went to Beverly's aid.
"Captain! Captain Picard! Wake up!"
Jean-Luc drew back his fist to strike again only to pause as his vision cleared. He blinked slowly twice and looked perplexed at his raised fist. In a roughened voice he said,
"Deanna…?"
"It's alright Captain you had a bad dream. Lie back now and relax, it's over."
Selar scanned the livid bruise on Beverly's cheek before running a tissue regenerator over the affected area. Helping her to her feet, Selar pronounced her healed and went to check on the Captain's drip. Jean-Luc was still staring at his hand when he noticed Beverly rubbing her cheek.
"Beverly what happened?"
"Nothing Jean-Luc, you got a fright that's all…it's nothing really."
"It's not nothing Beverly…my God…I hit you!"
It was then he saw the drip attached to his arm.
"What's this? What's going on? What happened to me?"
"Jean-Luc everything's alright. You got up too soon after your therapy and fainted. You hit your head, but I fixed it."
"And the drip?"
"You haven't been eating. We needed to get you some nourishment into you quickly…that was the quickest way."
"Well you can remove it now thank you."
Beverly came closer to him and grasped his hand.
"I don't think so. Not only haven't you been eating, you've not been sleeping either. The combination has left you severely weakened. You'll be staying here for a few days while we stabilise your body chemistry. I want you to rest Jean-Luc."
"I can do that in my quarters."
"Uh uh that's how you got here in the first place. If you won't look after yourself, then I'll do it for you."
"Beverly…"
"No. It's my way or none at all."
He glared up at her then gave up.
"Very well."
"Good. Now I'm going to go and set a few things up, I want you to talk to Deanna while I'm gone…and Jean-Luc? No more lies."
She left before he could respond, leaving him alone with the Counsellor. Silence settled for a while before Deanna broke it.
"No more lies Captain?"
He sighed and closed his eyes momentarily.
"It would seem I have been a little…cavalier with the truth."
"In what way?"
"I told Beverly I was eating when in fact I wasn't."
"Why?"
"I wasn't the least bit hungry and she kept nagging me! In the end it was a relief to lie to her just to make her stop."
"I don't think you're being exactly fair Captain…"
He snorted and grimaced, but then relented.
"You're right, I'm not. Look I know Beverly was only doing her job, but between my not feeling hungry and the damned therapy…"
"She was doing more than just her job Captain…you know how much she cares…"
Jean-Luc reached out and gripped Deanna's hand.
"I know Counsellor…I spoke in anger, I'm sorry."
"Captain…you've been to hell and back recently. I understand your anger, in fact I condone it."
"You do?"
"Yes! For a man like you, it's difficult to talk about how you feel, but nevertheless, those unshared feeling fester and the pressure builds. It's no wonder you've been having nightmares."
"And hitting the woman I love?"
"An accident Captain. She bears no malice. But I am curious…why didn't you talk to her about the nightmares? I know you called her at night."
He lay silently, formulating his reply.
"They are so terrible…so vivid…when I waken its all I can do not to break down completely. One time I actually wet the bed, heaping humiliation on top of everything else. By the time I was able to call her I had gained a semblance of control. I didn't want to lose it."
"So you said nothing…kept it all to yourself?"
"Uh huh."
"What are they about?"
"Mostly what Bleck did to me. I told you that sometimes it's Beverly on the receiving end but sometimes I dream Bleck emasculates me. The pain is excruciating. When I found I couldn't get an erection, the dreams became worse. Somehow the therapy added to it…perhaps it was the pain…I don't know, but I found myself beginning to believe that I would never again get an…I want so badly to make love to Beverly…the thought that I might not be able to…it's devastating."
"But surely Beverly has told you she thinks the treatment has been successful?"
"Yes, but we don't know yet."
"Well as soon as you're strong enough, it will be the first order of business."
He smiled and released her hand, rubbing his face.
"You know Captain…Beverly is bound to be hurt by all this."
"I know."
"You need to talk to her."
He nodded and sighed.
"Not only do I have to apologise for hitting her…I have to say sorry for lying…for deceiving her. Gods what a mess."
Deanna patted his hand.
"Nothing that can't be sorted out. When she comes back she's going to place neural inducers on you to make sure you get some dreamless sleep."
"That makes sense. I must admit…I'm exhausted. Some dream free sleep would be appreciated."
"I leave you then. Be patient with her Captain, her temper sometimes gets in her way."
"I will…and thank you Deanna, we'll talk again soon."
The Counsellor left and Jean-Luc wondered how long he would have to wait before being exposed to Beverly's wrath.

 

 

 

 

 

Deanna found the red head making up a meal regimen for the Captain.
She read over Beverly's shoulder before chancing a giggle.
"You'll never get him to eat all that!"
Beverly slapped the PADD down with more force than was necessary.
"I'll make him eat it or die trying! That man! Honestly Deanna I don't know what to do with him. One half of me wants to cosset him, the other half wants to kick him in the rear end. What the hell am I supposed to do?"
"A little of both I think. Beverly he won't be cosseted and he certainly won't appreciate being kicked, but he does need to know how much he's hurt you. He's very sorry about what's happened…and he's mortified that he hit you…it's just that he's had so much to deal with…it all became too much for him and he withdrew from us all. It's not like he's never done it before."
Beverly sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.
"I know. Dammit Deanna I want to help him, but he won't let me!"
"I think he will now."
Beverly looked frankly at her best friend and sighed.
"You think so?"
"Uh huh…starting right now."
Giving her a gentle push, Deanna watched as Beverly made her tentative way to the Captain's room.

 

 

 

 

 

As she slowly entered the darkened room, Bevery called for the lights to come up by 25%. She went to the table and fiddled with some instruments before she heard a whispered…
"Beverly?"
She turned and put on her Doctor's face.
"Yes Captain?"
He reached for her hand, but she stood ramrod straight, keeping her hands by her sides.
He closed his eyes and let his hand drop onto the bed.
"Beverly…please…I need you."
"Do you?"
He opened his eyes and she gave a small gasp as she saw tears rolling slowly down his face. He nodded and raised his arms.
"Come to me my love."
Her resolve broken, a sob was wrenched from her throat as she flung herself into his embrace. She wound her arms around him and held him as if he might disappear. They wept quietly in each other's arms, giving and taking strength…and love. Eventually Beverly sat up and retrieved some tissues for them both. Jean-Luc found his voice first.
"Beverly…my love…I'm so sorry. I have lied to you, deceived you…struck you…what can I do to make it right between us?"
Beverly rested a hand on his chest to make sure he stayed supine as she wiped her tears away. Shaking her head, she placed a finger on his lips.
"Hush Jean-Luc, I understand. Everything happened too fast. Your rescue, confronting Bleck, the therapy…I should've given you more time…and as for hitting me…par for the course I'm afraid. Comes with the job. If I had some latinum for every time someone's taken a swing at me, I'd be rich. I should've ducked. Don't give it another thought."
"Hmm I'll take that under advisement. I should've been honest with you though…I'm sorry."
"Tell you what. How about we start afresh? From now on we share everything…our thoughts our dreams…our fantasies…"
He shifted his head and smiled for the first time.
"I think I like the sound of that. When do we start?"
"Like I said…now."
Beverly basked in one of his rare full grins.
"Oh good."
She grinned back at him then left the bed to go to the table. She returned with two devices in her hands.
"For now however, you need some quality sleep."
She placed the instruments on his temples and activated them.
"I'm going to give you a sedative to help you sleep. The neural inducers will stop any dreams. It's not something we can do for any protracted time, after all you do need to dream, but this will suffice in the short term."
He felt the hypospray touch his neck and he heard the characteristic hiss. Immediately his body relaxed and he felt his mind become sluggish.
"Good night my love."
He managed one last question.
"Will you stay?"
"Yes."

 

 

 

 

 

He slept undisturbed for twelve hours and Beverly stayed by his side the entire time, dozing by his bed. At 0830 she removed the inducers and allowed him to enter REM sleep. She monitored him carefully and noted the dreams were not stressful. She also noted, with great satisfaction, as he entered a lighter sleep in preparation to waking, he had an erection. It had subsided by the time he woke up.
"Good morning Jean-Luc."
He blinked owlishly and smiled at his lover. In a deep rumble he replied,
"Good morning Doctor."
"Would you like to go to the bathroom?"
He nodded and Beverly disconnected the drip, drawing the cannula from his vein.
"There you go you don't need that any more."
He smiled his thanks and made his way to the bathroom. After using the toilet, he shaved and showered and was greeted to the smell of breakfast when he re-entered his room.
"What have we here?"
With a flourish Beverly whipped off the cover from the plate.
"Hot croissants, butter, strawberry jam, blueberry jam and coffee."
He grinned and went to sit in a chair but Beverly scowled and shook her head.
"Oh no you don't! Back into bed mister."
"But…"
"No buts. Bed."
He stood a moment frowning then shrugged his broad shoulders and climbed into bed. Beverly straightened the covers then placed the tray over his thighs.
"Now…eat!"
"Aye Sir."
Twenty minutes and three croissants later, they were sharing a coffee when Beverly leaned forward and sneaked a kiss.
"What was that for?"
"I've got good news."
"Really? What?"
"Well you know that…problem…we've been working on? The one you had the therapy for?"
"Yes…" he said tentatively.
"You're cured!"
"What? How do you know?"
Beverly giggled, an impish gleam in her eyes.
"When you were waking up you got an erection."
Jean-Luc blushed and put his cup down.
"Oh God. Were we alone?"
"Uh huh."
"Thank heaven for small mercies."
He thought about it then and a grin appeared on his face.
"Was it…good?"
"Oh yes!"
He sighed and closed his eyes.
"Thank you Beverly. I don't think I have to tell you how much this means to me."
"No you don't but I must admit…it's pretty important to me too."
That had them both laughing. They were still chuckling when Deanna stuck her head through the door.
"Good morning. Up for a visitor?"
Beverly stood and took the tray.
"Come in Deanna you can talk to him…I've got work to do."
She smiled at her friend and let the happy emotions she felt settle on her.
"How do you feel Captain?"
"Much better Counsellor. I have resolved my differences with Beverly and, although I don't wish to go into details, I've just found out that my therapy has been successful."
"That's wonderful Sir! I'm very happy for you…both of you. Have you had a good sleep?"
"Yes nearly fourteen hours and no nightmares."
"Good. Now that things have been sorted out for you, I think we can expect the nightmares to become less frequent, although I don't think they'll disappear completely, at least not for a while."
"I understand. I've been through this before remember. I'll be alright…with the right help."
"Yes Captain you will. Has she got you eating?"
He chuckled delightedly, a sparkle in his hazel eyes.
"Indeed she has. Croissants and coffee and she tells me I will enjoy lunch."
Joining her Captain in laughter, Deanna basked in his relaxation, a state he didn't often find in the company of others.
"I'm sure you will Sir. Is there anything you would like from your quarters?"
"No I think I have everything I need thank you."
"Very well Sir, I'll see you later."
She left confident for the first time about his recovery.

In all he stayed in Sickbay three days, finally securing his release with a solemn vow to rest and eat properly in the privacy of his quarters. Beverly walked him back to his cabin, arm in arm.
"So what are you going to do with your time?"
"Oh I don't know…read, play the flute, there's a new Bach piece I've been working on it's very intricate."
"Fine as long as you stay away from your desk. No ship's business, none at all. You must rest."
"I know…you've made yourself quite clear on that subject."
They reached his door and he asked her in.
"No, not now I have work to do, but I will come for dinner if I'm invited."
He looked up and down the corridor and, finding them alone, leaned in and kisser her with gentle passion. She responded and he tightened his embrace. Tapering off the kiss, he looked deeply into her eyes and murmured,
"Oh you're invited Doctor…most definitely."
She chuckled softly and kissed him tenderly.
"Then I'll be there."
He released her reluctantly and watched as she walked away from him. Sighing, he entered his quarters and stood quietly, a satisfied grin on his face.

 

 

 

 

Beverly had butterflies as she walked down the corridor to his quarters. She'd been to her cabin and showered. Choosing her wardrobe had been easy. The peach top he liked so much, paired with the blue skirt…the one with the slit up the side. She walked bare footed, carrying her shoes. Her capriciousness was liberating. She felt happy, carefree and excited. She had high hopes for the evening and her desire simmered just under the surface. She arrived at his door and activated the chime.
The door whispered open and they both stood transfixed, each stunned by the presence of the other. As he stood back, Jean-Luc's deep baritone thrilled her as he spoke.
"Come in Beverly, you look gorgeous."
She drifted past him, detecting the musky aroma of his aftershave. Turning she cocked her hip and looked him up and down hungrily.
He wore navy blue close fitting trousers, a white silk shirt and soft black shoes. He was devastatingly handsome.
"Would you care for some wine?"
She shook her head as she stepped slowly towards him. He stood still as she reached up and trailed her fingers from his brow to his lips. In a low husky murmur, she replied,
"I don't want to drink, I don't want to eat…I want you."
He closed his eyes and let the sultriness of her voice wash over him. Deeply breathing her scent, he opened his eyes and lifted his hands to her hair entangling them.
"I love you Beverly."
"I know. I love you too…with all my heart."
He kissed her then. Gently at first, it soon became a kiss of deep passion and need.
His arms encircled her and he crushed her to him, unable to get enough of her. As she felt his erection rise to press at her hip, she moaned into his mouth and caressed his neck, running her fingers through the short hair. Maintaining the kiss, he swept her up into his arms and carried her to his bedroom. He gently placed her on her feet, his hands roaming over her breasts.
Suddenly breaking the kiss, she stepped back, her hand on his chest.
"I've seen you naked often enough…it's your turn."
With deliberate sloth, she peeled off her top and cupped her breasts through her bra.
Taking another step backwards, she undid the bra and dropped it at her feet. Now his eyes roamed over her breasts, etching into his memory their shape and colour, how the reddened nipples puckered and rose as she gently rubbed them.
She slipped her fingers under the waistband of her skirt and slowly pushed it down until it puddled at her feet. She kicked it away and boldly caressed herself through her panties.
"I've dreamed of doing this for you Jean-Luc…having you watch me as I undress."
He moaned softly, his eyes devouring her body.
Her thumbs hooked under the elastic of her underwear and she slid the garment slowly down her legs. It too joined the skirt, forgotten on the floor. She stood before him gloriously naked and extremely aroused. He could see the flush of arousal colouring the milky skin of her body and his soul ached for her. He stepped forward but she stopped him.
"No…not yet. Let me undress you."
One by one she undid the buttons of his shirt and untucked the hem from his pants. Encouraging him to lift his arms, she pulled the shirt from him and quickly kissed his nipples while his arms were upraised.
He groaned and reached for her, but she shook her head. He lowered his arms and waited. She leaned forward and drew a deep breath, suffusing her senses with his unique male scent. She gently ran her fingers down his chest and slowly undid his trousers. As she slid the zipper down, her fingers made contact with his straining erection. He gasped and involuntarily thrust his hips.
She sank to her knees and rid him of his shoes and socks before helping him out of his pants. She then ran her hands up the back of his legs to caress his buttocks as she gently rubbed her face over his confined penis. She drew back and looked at him hungrily, noting the wet patch on his briefs. Slipping her fingers under the waistband she lowered his underwear and freed his throbbing need.
Once he was fully naked she stood and looked at him. Licking her lips she whispered huskily,
"You're so beautiful…"
He found his voice.
"As are you, my love."
He stepped forward and she came to meet him. His kiss was tender and searching, learning and tasting. He picked her up again and placed her gently on his bed. Stretching out beside her, his hand found her breast and he moulded its shape, finding the hardened nipple and rolling it between finger and thumb.
She arched to him, whispering his name.
His mouth kissed its way down her face and on to the valley of her breast. He mouthed his way over the quivering mound and teased the nipple repeatedly before sucking it into the heat of his mouth.
"Oh yes…"
Her hand drifted down his torso and gripped his erection, stroking him lightly. He thrust gently into her hand and moaned around her nipple. His own hand traced patterns down her flank until it enticed her legs apart. As he slipped his fingers through her folds she bucked her hips and gasped. When he slid a thick finger into her she kissed him and moaned into his mouth.
Their desire spiralling, he rolled her over and removed his hand, now coated with her dew. His erection slid over her as he undulated his hips, teasing her, making her want him even more.
Her blue eyes opened and she panted…
"Now Jean-Luc…I want you now!"
He kissed her and reached down to take himself in hand. Guiding it slowly he sank into her, making them one for the first time.
He reached her depths and stilled, letting her become accustomed to his size. Still kissing her, his hand reached up and caressed her breast. She lifted her legs, locked them around his waist and clenched him internally.
He took her cue and started to thrust slowly, his body tingling with sensation. Beverly fell into his rhythm and clenched him on every thrust. She held him tightly as he broke the kiss to gasp his pleasure.
"Oh God Beverly…"
"Yes my love…oh yes…"
He raised himself up on trembling arms and thrust hard into her. She lifted her hips to meet every movement and felt the onrush of her climax.
"Oh Jean-Luc…more…harder…"
He closed his eyes and gave up his formidable control. He pumped into her with abandon, his back whipsawing with effort. She rose up to him and held on as she flexed and jerked, crying out his name as the ecstasy swept over her.
He thrust hard four more times and stiffened as his own orgasm surged through his sweating body. He ground himself into her as he jetted his semen deep inside her then collapsed panting and moaning.

 

 

 

It was some time before they regained their senses. Rolling to his side, he took her with him and they lay together, still joined, their legs entangled.
Jean-Luc reached up and tucked a wayward strand of hair behind Beverly's ear.
"That was…wonderful…you were wonderful…"
Beverly chuckled softly and kissed him tenderly.
"Up to your expectations?"
He shook his head and grinned.
"My expectations have been exceeded beyond my furthest imagination. I couldn't have concocted anything so beautiful."
"Hmm, it was good wasn't it? Definitely worth the wait."
He kissed her with gentle passion, his hand drifting to her breast. She returned the kiss with equal ardour, her hand roaming over his chest and tweaking his nipples.
They parted and she growled her pleasure, feeling him harden insider her. The love they made was unhurried and extraordinarily intense. They were forging an unbreakable bond, one that had begun almost thirty years before, but only now sealed in mutual love and passion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An hour later they were sitting up in bed eating a belated dinner. Jean-Luc kept glancing surreptitiously and his naked lover, watching her as she ate. He was delighted…and it showed.
Beverly scooped the last of the gravy up with the bread and popped it into her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully and he knew something was on her mind. He sighed.
"All right…out with it."
She dabbed daintily at her lips with a serviette and cast her gaze over him.
"There are some…medical things I need to know."
"Like what?"
"In view of you injuries…when we made love was there any pain? Any problems I should know about?"
He frowned and shook his head.
"No…everything was fine…better than fine actually. I can honestly say that was the most intimate, extraordinary sexual experience of my life."
Beverly chuckled and gently ran her fingers down his face.
"Really? You mean all those other women…?"
"Beverly…I wasn't in love with them…not in the way I love you. Believe me, they pale into insignificance."
Beverly smiled gently and rose from the bed, taking the tray with her. He admired her as she crossed the room, her nude body catching the starlight from the viewport. She soon returned and they snuggled under the covers together.
"How are we going to do this Jean-Luc?
"What…our new relationship?"
"Uh huh."
"Well I don't know about you, but I would like to keep this to ourselves for a while…at least until we find our feet."
"I agree…but Deanna's going to know, if she doesn't already."
He sighed expansively, his fingers idly drawing patterns on her back.
"I suppose we'll just have to rely on her discretion. She'll probably tell Will…oh God I'm going to have to bear the shit-eating grin. Damn!"
Beverly laughed and buried her hand in the softly curling hair of his chest.
"They'll leave us alone…I'll kill them both personally if they don't, but what about us?"
"All I can say is that we should take it day by day. Let things develop at their own pace."
"Do you want me to move in with you?"
"Yes, eventually, but I think we should give each other time to settle into this. Beverly I've waited too long to ruin this by rushing in headlong and forcing the issue. I will be guided by you. Tell me what you need and it's yours."
Beverly rose up on her elbow and gazed down at her lover.
"I love you Jean-Luc…you know that don't you?"
"Yes my love, I know and it makes me the happiest man in the universe."
"Good. Now go to sleep, you still need your rest."
"Aye Sir."
He held her as they slipped into sleep and he was right. There was not another man in the cosmos as happy as he.

 

*The premise and title of this story came from the fertile mind of Amy Fullarton.
Thank you Amy…you're a gem!